Malaysian PM Najib arrives today in Gaza for one-day visit

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived in the Gaza Strip for a one-day visit on Tuesday via the Rafah crossing from Egypt, AFP correspondents said.

Mr Najib, who entered accompanied by his Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and other officials, was expected to hold a press conference with Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya before travelling north to Gaza City.

There, he is expected to visit the Shifa hospital and the parliament building.

The delegation was expected to deliver medical supplies, Hamas officials said.

Mainly Muslim Malaysia, a long-standing staunch supporter of the Palestinians' aspirations to statehood, does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

During the conflict in Gaza last November, Mr Najib urged international powers to influence Israel to halt what he called its military aggression against the Palestinians.

The prime minister said Malaysia was deeply concerned at the crisis and ready to help in any way possible. He urged Hamas, the Islamist movement which runs Gaza, to refrain from action that would cause the conflict to worsen.

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas ended the Nov 14-21 fighting that left 177 Palestinians dead - including about 100 civilians - as well as six Israelis - four civilians and two soldiers.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamid bin Khalifa al-Thani made a landmark trip last October to Gaza, the first such visit by a head of state since Hamas took over the territory in 2007.

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