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Malaysian PM visits Gaza for first time, boosting profile of territory's Hamas rulers

The Malaysian prime minister is visiting the Gaza Strip, in a political boost for the territory's once internationally isolated rulers from the Islamic militant Hamas.

During his first-ever visit to the territory Tuesday, Najib Razak is meeting with Hamas politicians, touring sites bombed by Israeli forces and visiting a school funded by his majority-Muslim nation in Southeast Asia.

The West has branded Hamas, which seized Gaza in 2007, as a terror organization. The Arab Spring uprisings that brought Islamists to power in parts of the region also enabled Hamas to break out of its isolation.

In October, the leader of resource-rich Qatar became the first head of state to visit Gaza. Hamas also forged closer ties in the past two years with regional powerhouses Egypt and Turkey.