GAZA CITY (AFP) - The Islamist movement Hamas on Sunday marked the first year of its Gaza Strip takeover in a state of war with Israel but unchallenged by the Palestinians in its besieged coastal enclave. "We cannot deny that the pressure and the siege has been very painful for the Palestinian people. You will not find a people anywhere in the world who have endured what our people have," Hamas MP Salah al-Bardawil said. "But in the end America and Israel have not succeeded in separating the Palestinian people from Hamas," the senior Hamas official told AFP. "The stabilisation that took place a year ago was never part of the goals of Hamas," Bardawil said, but was forced on the movement because of what Hamas said was a campaign of violence orchestrated by Israel and the United States. In the months leading up to the takeover as gunmen from rival factions clashed in the streets, Hamas and Abbas' Fatah faction agreed to form a national unity government to try to stem the violence roiling the territory. The agreement "did not please the United States of America and Israel and so they wanted to drag them down to the depths. This is what led to their failure," according to Bardawil. The result was a week of fierce street battles pitting Palestinians against their neighbours and relatives and marked by the grisly spectacle of rival fighters thrown to their deaths from rooftops and attacked in hospitals. "The coup in Gaza, of which the coup-makers are now celebrating the first anniversary, will not last another year," said Mohammed Dahlan, a Fatah strongman blamed for much of the violence in Gaza that preceded the takeover. "What Hamas has done has been more destructive to Palestinian society than all the actions of the (Israeli) occupation itself." In the past year Israel has sealed Gaza off from all but limited humanitarian aid and conducted near daily military raids as Palestinian fighters have fired hundreds of rockets at communities near the border. Gaza's already stagnant economy has declined even further, with nearly 40 per cent of Gazans living in poverty and most of the population relying on aid. But Hamas remains defiant even as Israel prepares for a widescale assault while still holding off on a major operation to give Egyptian-mediated truce efforts a chance. Branded a terror group by Israel, the United States and Europe, Hamas has made it a priority to show it could govern the isolated and impoverished territory of 1.5 million residents. Hamas had no experience of governance before it won democratic Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, but it now manages some 20,000 civil servants, runs the courts, and has a police force of several thousand. In line with Islamic principles, the black-clad police target those suspected of drug dealing, running booze or stealing cars, and have virtually eliminated the public display of firearms, once ubiquitous on Gaza streets. But Hamas is also accused by human rights groups of torturing jailed members of Abbas' Fatah movement. Earlier this month Abbas reached out to Hamas, calling for a return to dialogue and seeming to drop his earlier insistence that the Islamists first return Gaza to his control. Dismissed Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya responded by saying that his movement wanted national reconciliation and talks based on "neither victor nor vanquished."