Hamas chief in first visit to Gaza
on 07/12/2012 11:47:42
The landmark trip reflects his militant group's burgeoning international acceptance.
Mr Mashaal had left the West Bank as a child and currently leads the Islamic movement from Qatar.
Mr Mashaal crossed the Egyptian border on Friday and was greeted by Hamas officials and representatives of the rival Fatah party.
He kissed the ground as Palestinian orphans - children of Gaza militants killed by Israel in recent years - rushed to greet him.
Mr Mashaal's visit comes after he led the Hamas delegation that accepted a truce to stop last month's eight-day conflict between Israel and Gaza.
Gaza officials are portraying the landmark visit as a celebration of what they call Hamas's victory in the recent fighting.