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Hamas chief’s Gaza visit poses challenge to Israel

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RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — The image of Hamas' long-exiled chief triumphantly walking around the Gaza Strip, flashing victory signs beside Islamic militant leaders Friday, illustrates how the group's defiance of Israel is forcing a change in Palestinian politics. Buoyed by the rise of fellow Islamists in Egypt, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal and his allies are confronting Israel with the specter of a change in the balance of power between the two rival Palestinian factions — Hamas and the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah.

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