A group representing an anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect have paid a brief visit to the Gaza Strip to express their support for Hamas.
The trip was the first by members of the Neturei Karta sect since Hamas – whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel – seized control of the tiny coastal territory two years ago.
The Orthodox group's opposition to Zionism comes from the belief that Jews should not have their own state until the coming of the Messiah and has seen them embrace Israel's enemies – including President Ahmadinejad of Iran, whom Neturei Karta members famously hugged at a Holocaust denial conference in December 2006.
Four sect representatives from the US sat down with Ismail Haniya, the Hamas Prime Minister, yesterday after arriving in Gaza from Egypt on Wednesday night in a group of around 200 pro-Palestinian activists including the British MP George Galloway.
"We feel your suffering, we cry your cry," one of the group, Rabbi Yisroel Weiss, said as they arrived in Gaza.
"It is your land, it is occupied, illegitimately and unjustly by people who stole it, kidnapped the name of Judaism and our identity."