A prominent Islamic scholar who is making a landmark visit to the Gaza Strip has declared that Israel has no right to exist.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi said Thursday that “this land has never once been a Jewish land. Palestine is for the Arab Islamic nation.” The Qatar-based cleric was made famous by his popular TV show and is widely respected in the Muslim world.
Al-Qaradawi arrived in Gaza late Wednesday for a visit seen as a boost of legitimacy for the ruling Hamas militant group.
Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 following several days of fighting against the rival Palestinian faction Fatah.
The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, which governs in the West Bank, has condemned al-Qaradawi’s visit. It says his presence is cementing the rift between the two Palestinian factions.
Islamic cleric in Gaza, rejects Israel’s existence