BEIJING, Dec. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- The Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, will mark its 25th anniversary this weekend with a special visit by the group’s founder Khaled Mashal. Mashal has never set foot in the 45 square kilometer Gaza strip he presides over, but analysts say the time is ripe.
Gaza is buzzing as preparations get underway for weekend festivities. Hamas is marking 25 years and the guest of honor is the group’s founder who, until now, was barred from entering Gaza through Egypt.
Locals are eager to see Mashal in the flesh and celebrate the future.
"Hamas has proven its military power. Politically, it has also proven itself. These victories are not only for Hamas but also for all Palestinian people."
The Hamas movement has changed since its establishment in 1987 as a resistance movement to Israeli occupation with ambitions of forming an Islamic state.
Omar Shaaban, political analyst of Gaza Think Tank, said, "Now Hamas is a political movement, it has international recognition, it has popularity worldwide and it has a lot of support not only in Palestine but in the Arab world and the whole world."
Co-founded by a wheelchair bound Sheikh who was later assassinated by Israel, Hamas’ popularity and strength gained rapidly as word of the organization spread in mosques.
In tandem with the political movement, a militant wing was also formed, carrying out rocket attacks and suicide bombings against Israel.
Backing two uprisings against Israel, Hamas gained political momentum leading to tension and an eventual split with Palestinian mainstream Fatah leaders. The two sides are currently divided.
But following gains in the recent conflicts with Israel, Hamas leaders are showing signs of making amends with rivals.
"We think reconciliation will happen. By allowing Fatah members into Gaza and allowing Hamas activity in the West bank, the idea that reconciliation will happen, is supported."
As the movement gains international recognition, the appearance of the organization’s leader and founder for 25-year celebrations goes beyond symoblism.
Omar Shaaban, political analyst of Gaza Think Tank, said, "I think his visits to Egypt and Gaza is his way of saying I am the leader of Hamas outside and I am also the leader of Hamas inside."