It has been 45 years since exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal last stepped on Palestinian soil.
The 56-year-old is due to travel to the Gaza Strip today take part in celebrations to mark the militant group’s 25th anniversary.
From 2004 until earlier this year, Meshaal ran Hamas from Damascus. In January, he moved to Qatar due to the escalating civil war in Syria.
The visit has even been welcomed by some Israeli analysts and comes despite a botched attempt by Israel to assassinate Meshaal in 1997.
Journalist and former Mossad agent Gad Shimron said: “Prime Minister Netanyahu is quite happy with the fact that Mr Meshaal is coming to Gaza, strengthening Hamas in Gaza because it is in Bibi’s (Netanyahu’s) interest to have the Palestinian Authority, or the new state if you want, divided into two parts: Hamastan in Gaza and Abu Mazen’s Palestinian Authority or Palestinian government in the West Bank.”
The trip comes just weeks after Israel launched a deadly air offensive to stop Hamas firing rockets at southern Israeli towns.
Around 170 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed in the fighting.