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The Boston Globe


Long-exiled Hamas leader visits Gaza Strip

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — The long-exiled leader of the militant group Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, entered Gaza for the first time Friday, a symbolically powerful visit that sought to reinforce the contention by Hamas that it was victorious in its eight-day clash with Israel.

For Mashaal, 56, whom the Israelis tried to assassinate in Jordan in 1997, it was a triumphant day, as Hamas fighters, armed with rifles and wearing balaclavas, lined the streets where he was to travel. He ­entered from Egypt, through the Rafah crossing, an indication of a new alliance with ­Cairo after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, an avowed adver­sary of Hamas.

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