Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has arrived in the Gaza strip.
It is the first time he has set foot in the Palestinian territories for 45 years.
The 56-year-old ran Hamas from exile in Damascus from 2004 to January this year.
He quit the Syrian capital because of the regime’s war against Sunni Muslim rebels and now spends his time between Cairo and Qatar.
Greeted by dozens of officials from competing Palestinian factions, he is visiting for barely 48 hours.
Meshaal will attend a mass rally in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, as well as their perceived “victory” in a recent conflict with Israel.
On his arrival Meshaal said: “This is my third birth. After my natural birth in 1956, I was born again after the Israeli attempt to assassinate me in Jordan in 1997 on the orders of Netanyahu”
Hamas, whose 1988 charter calls for the destruction of Israel, laid on massive security for Meshaal’s arrival.
He has pledged to give up his post as leader of the party. It has been holding a leadership ballot for several months to decide who will succeed him.