A cadet with the armed wing of the Hamas movement participates in a march in Gaza. AFP / SAID KHATIB
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Its rivals, the Islamist group Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, drove Fatah out of Gaza and has run the tiny coastal strip that is home to 2 million people, nearly half of the population of the Palestinian territories.If Hamas has swallowed a bitter pill by ending the feud, perhaps bitterest of all is the role played by exiled former Gaza security chief Mohammad Dahlan, once Hamas' fiercest foe who is now a leading player in regional efforts to pull Gaza back into the Palestinian mainstream.Dahlan's return to prominence could have consequences for Palestinian politics as profound as the reconciliation itself. As hated as he once was in Gaza for trying to uproot Hamas, he is perhaps even more reviled by the Fatah leadership in Ramallah for challenging the authority of President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas figures blame Abbas, Fatah and Dahlan for urging Egypt and other Arab countries to keep the economic pressure on, forcing Hamas to agree to the reconciliation.Gaza bristles with hundreds of rockets belonging to Hamas' armed wing, and the movement insisted that the arsenal it says is essential to confronting Israel will never be given up.
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