GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — An influential Muslim preacher is making one of the most high-profile visits to the Palestinian territory since the Islamic Hamas seized control in 2007.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a prominent scholar in Qatar who is widely-respected in the Muslim world, arrived Wednesday in the Gaza Strip for his first visit there as a top cleric.
The visit has bolstered Hamas after facing years of Israeli and Egyptian blockades. The U.S., the European Union and Israel consider Hamas a terror group.
Turkey's prime minister is also planning to visit later this month, despite U.S. pressure to delay the trip.
Al-Qaradawi's visit also deepens the bitter division between Gaza's hard-line Islamist rulers and the West Bank's Western-backed Palestinian leaders.
West Bank officials are angered by the visit because it emboldens its Hamas rivals.