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Hamas Says Leader Set To Return

June 10, 1998

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) _ The founder and spiritual leader of the radical Islamic group Hamas will return to the Gaza Strip within days, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Mahmoud Zahar told The Associated Press that Sheik Ahmed Yassin _ who has been on a 3 1/2-month tour of Muslim countries to raise money and drum up support for Hamas _ will ``most likely″ come back to Gaza on Saturday.

Yassin was quoted by the Sudan News Agency in Khartoum where he is visiting, as saying he would return, though he did not say when.

``I did not sneak out through a window and I am going back home through the door sooner or later,″ Yassin said.

Israel’s security establishment and political leaders have been debating for weeks whether the sheik poses a greater danger from outside or inside Gaza.

Israel controls Gaza’s borders and could keep Yassin out if it wished, but Tuesday appeared to be leaning toward allowing him back, in part because keeping him out could trigger violence by Hamas supporters.

``The choice is not between what is good and better, but between what is bad and worse,″ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel radio.

Also Tuesday, Israel barred the wife and children of another Hamas official, Mousa Abu Marzouk, from entering the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Abu Marzouk was released last summer from a U.S. jail and sent to Jordan, where he now lives, after promising no longer to be involved in terrorism.

Hamas rejects the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords and advocates armed struggle against Israel. Its military wing has killed more than 100 Israelis in scores of attacks in recent years.

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