By now, the former general Ariel Sharon was Israeli prime minister and he abandoned the policy he had followed all his life, that of holding onto the West Bank and Gaza at all costs.
Instead, he announced that Israel would leave the Gaza Strip and would build a wall and fence to defend itself against suicide bombers and separate the Palestinian territories from Israel.
The withdrawal went ahead, but Gaza later became the scene of a power struggle between the Palestinian Authority, representing the old guard of the secular PLO, and the newer Islamic-inspired forces of Hamas. Hamas prevailed.
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