Khaled Meshaal is the leader of Hamas, the pro-Palestinian terrorist organization engaged in a bloody conflict with Israel in Gaza.
Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel and attempted to invade its neighbor through tunnels; Israel has responded with superior technology and overwhelming force, attacking from air, land and sea.
The conflict has resulted in the deaths of 680 Palestinians and 35 Israelis.
Here’s what you need to know about the political leader and militant:
1. Meshaa Said Truce Would Not Come Without an End to the Blockade
On Wednesday evening, Meshaal said that he and Hamas are open to accepting a ceasefire and truce under certain conditions. Among his requests was a lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which was put into place in 2007 to keep weapons out. However, in recent years the blockade has been criticized for keeping out vital supplies and mobility necessary for comfortable life in Gaza.
2. He Claimed Hamas Had No Part in the Kidnapping & Killing of 3 Israelis
With tension between Israel and Palestine mounting in June, three Israeli teenagers went missing while trying to hitchhike from a settlement in the West Bank back into Israeli territory. After search missions through the area found the three boys dead, Meshaal told Sky News that Hamas was not involved.
In the wake of the three Israeli teens’ murders, Israelis abducted and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian in Israel. According to Haaretz, Meshaal said that while Hamas was not involved in the initial abduction, it would not tolerate ongoing Israeli “belligerence” and asked Turkey to help to lessen tensions.
3. He Survived a Poison-Spray Assassination Attempt in 1997
After attending Kuwait University and receiving a degree in physics, Mashaal began working with Hamas in the country until, in 1991, during the American Gulf War invasion, he moved to Jordan. In Jordan he became a more prominent Hamas member, rising to the rank of chairman in 1996.
In 1997, the Israeli secret service, Mossad, attempted to assassinate him in Amman, Jordan. Meshaal was cornered by five agents posing as Canadian tourists who sprayed a fast-acting poison into his ear. The Israeli agents were captured by Jordanian police, and Israel was forced to trade the antidote for the release of the agents.
In 1999 Hamas and Meshaal were banned from Jordan for threatening their peace with Israel. He is now based in Qatar.
4. He Became the Leader of Hamas in 2004
Meshaal assumed the leadership of Hamas in 2004 after his predecessor, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was killed by Israeli forces sparking an eight-day war. During this time he reiterated his position that he did not intend on demilitarizing Hamas.
You can hear and watch Mashaal lay out some of his beliefs in the 2012 speech above.
5. After Political Disputes, Hamas Maintain Influence Over Gaza
In 2006, Hamas scored a key legislative victory over their rival moderate party, Fatah. The victory led to skirmishes between the two factions, which culminated in Hamas forcibly taking control of the Gaza strip.
Although reconciliations have patched up hostilities between the two groups, Gaza is still generally controlled by Hamas, while the West Bank is controlled by the Palestinian national president Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.