Gaza City: A Bahraini prince will on Thursday make a rare trip to the Gaza Strip to open two UNRWA schools, sources close to the UN agency and to Gaza’s Hamas government said.
“Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa will come on Thursday to open two schools in Gaza City which have been funded by the Bahrain Royal Charity Organisation,” a source close to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said on Tuesday.
The visit was confirmed by Hamas sources who said the Bahraini prince, who is chairman of the Royal Charity Organisation (RCO), would also be meeting with Gaza’s Hamas prime minister, Esmail Haniya.
Haniya visited Bahrain earlier this year as part of a regional tour which also took him to Qatar, Kuwait and Iran.
The prince’s trip to Gaza comes a week after a top-level visit by Qatari Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani in what was the first visit by a head of state since Hamas seized the territory in 2007, ousting forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority of president Mahmud Abbas.
The visit was something of a diplomatic coup for Hamas, which has been shunned by international dignitaries over the last five years.
Government spokesman Taher Al Nunu told AFP a number of other “top-level Arab officials” were expected to visit Gaza “soon” and meet with Haniya, but he did not give further details.
Four Bahraini activists took part in a six-ship flotilla that tried to breach Israel’s blockade on Gaza in May 2010, which ended in bloodshed when Israeli troops stormed the lead ship, killing nine Turkish nationals.
In January 2009, Bahrain set up a national committee for the support of the Palestinian people, which falls under the remit of the RCO.