The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, visited Gaza on 23 October in a move that highlights the strengthening links between Qatar and the Islamic Hamas government.

Sheikh Hamad became the first Arab leader in many years to visit the strip and his visit is said to have broken the economic and political blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel when Hamas took control five years ago.

During his visit, Sheikh Hamad pledged $400m to be invested in infrastructure and housing projects, much of which will be used to rebuild property destroyed during the 2008-09 conflict with Israel.

The sheikh also spoke out against the Israeli blockade on Gaza and called for Hamas and Fatah, its rival Palestinian group, which controls the West Bank, to settle their differences.

Qatar’s support for Gaza has been growing since Hamas broke off relations with Syria and Iran’s influence on the strip diminished.