Profile: Mohammed Dahlan

Former head of security in the Gaza Strip elected to Fatah’s executive council.

Mohammed Dahlan
Dahlan, right, has been accused of inflaming tensions between Hamas and Fatah [GALLO/GETTY]

Mohammed Dahlan, the former head of the Fatah-dominated Preventive Security  force in the Gaza Strip, has been elected to Fatah’s Central Committee.

He played a leading role in the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 1987, serving as a liaison between Fatah leaders in Gaza and the West Bank and leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, or PLO, who lived outside of the Palestinian territories.

In 1988, Israeli authorities deported Dahlan to Jordan for his role in the Intifada, after which he moved to Tunisia to join the leaders of the PLO.

Hamas crackdown

He returned to Gaza with Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, in 1994, and was picked to be the head of Fatah’s security forces.

In depth

undefined Profile: Marwan Barghouti
undefined Focus: Chronicling the PLO
undefined Pictures: The PLO’s struggle
undefined Inside Story: A new start for Fatah?
undefined Opinion: Empowering the powerless
undefined Special report – A Question of Arab Unity
undefined Special report – 60 Years of Division
undefined Special report – Crisis in Gaza
undefined PLO: History of a Revolution

Following the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1994, Dahlan became a permanent member of the Palestinian negotiating team on security issues.

As part of this role, Dahlan joined negotiations at the Camp David peace talks in 2000.

He later rose through the ranks of Fatah, staking his reputation on his ability to control the Gaza Strip.

He led a crackdown on Hamas members in Gaza, a move that angered many in the rival Palestinian faction and was criticised as being carried out under pressure from Israel and the US.

A strong opponent of Hamas, Dahlan has been accused of heightening tensions between the two Palestinian parties.

Born in 1961 in Gaza, Dahlan left the coastal strip shortly before Hamas seized control in 2006, and he has not been able to return.

Declining popularity

Following the second Intifada, Dahlan’s popularity began to decline among Palestinians, with some accusing him of corruption, and others wary of his relations with Israel and the United States.

Yet he remains a popular member of parliament and is seen by some as a leader capable of confronting Hamas.

He was elected in 2006 to the Palestinian Legislative Council, and in March 2007, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, appointed Dahlan as head of the Palestinian National Security Council.

His appointment to the council, which was formed to oversee all security services in the Palestinian territories, came despite objections from Hamas.

Dahlan resigned from the post in 2007, and was blamed by many for the collapse of Fatah forces in Gaza and Hamas’s takeover of the Strip. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies