Istanbul, Turkey – Hamas Premier Visits Flotilla Ship

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     Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) poses at wheelhouse of the cruise liner Mavi Marmara during his visit in Istanbul, Turkey 02 January 2012. According to media sources, Haniyeh started on 25 December 2011 a tour of several Muslim countries, his first since his militant Islamist movement seized control of the coastal enclave in June 2007. Haniyeh will visit Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Turkey, his aide Yousef Rizqah said in a statement. The reported aim is to garner support for the Palestinians and for Gaza Strip.  EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLUIstanbul, Turkey – The Hamas premier of the Gaza Strip has visited a ship docked in Turkey that in 2010 was the target of a deadly raid by Israeli troops seeking to prevent an aid flotilla reaching the Palestinian territory.

    The visit Monday by Ismail Haniyeh was a show of solidarity with the Islamic aid group IHH, which had planned to send the Mavi Marmara vessel with another Gaza flotilla last year but then dropped the plan.

    On the Istanbul dock, Haniyeh denounced the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Israel has lifted restrictions on consumer goods, though it kept a ban on materials like cement and metals that it says could be used by Hamas to build fortifications or aid attacks on Israel.

    Haniyeh is on a tour of the Muslim world, his first trip outside the blockaded territory since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007.

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