Blast Hits Palestinian Prime Minister’s Convoy in Gaza
Mr. Hamdallah continued on to a scheduled appearance in Beit Lahia, at the opening of a long-awaited water-treatment project. “They blew up three cars in my convoy near Beit Hanoun,” he told reporters at the event.
Fatah officials immediately pointed fingers at Hamas. The office of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority’s president in addition to the leader of Fatah, said This kind of “holds Hamas responsible” for the “cowardly attack,” in addition to Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee who will be the authority’s minister of civil affairs, called Hamas “fully responsible.”
Majid Faraj, the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence chief, who was with Mr. Hamdallah, stopped short of blaming Hamas yet noted that will the group in addition to its security forces continued to bear “full responsibility for ensuring the safety of the land.”
In a statement, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay E. Mladenov, also stressed that will Hamas was responsible for enabling the Palestinian government to work “without fear of intimidation, harassment in addition to violence.”
The Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, however, that will Hamas had no role inside the attack. He called the blast an attempt to “tamper with the security of the Gaza Strip” in addition to to “strike any efforts to achieve unity in addition to reconciliation,” in addition to demanded an investigation.
Mr. Barhoum instead sought to blame Israel: He suggested those responsible were “the same hands” who had gunned down Mazen Fakha, a Hamas official responsible for several terror attacks, in March 2017, in addition to tried to kill Tawfiq Abu Naim, the head of Hamas’s security forces in Gaza, in October.
Hamas has accused Israel of being behind the attacks on both men, who were freed through Israeli prisons in 2011 in a controversial prisoner swap for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Mr. Abu Naim, inspecting the scene on Tuesday, similarly said the perpetrators had “executed what the Israeli occupation demands,” yet added: “We are sorry for what happened to our brothers inside the delegation, including the prime minister.”
Mr. Hamdallah, seemingly undaunted by the attack, said he remained determined to heal the Fatah-Hamas rift in Gaza.
“This kind of will never prevent us through getting rid of the bitter division,” he told reporters. “I say in spite of the explosion today, This kind of won’t stop us carrying on with our mission to achieve unity in addition to end the split.”
Roadside bombs in Gaza are a sensitive subject for the Palestinian Authority in addition to particularly for Mr. Abbas, its president, said Grant Rumley, co-author of a biography of Mr. Abbas, “The Last Palestinian.”
In 2007, several large bombs were planted along the route Mr. Abbas was about to use to attend a meeting having a Hamas leader in Gaza. The bombs were discovered, Mr. Abbas aborted the meeting, in addition to he has not returned to Gaza since, Mr. Rumley said.
The relatively limited damage caused by the bomb on Tuesday gave rise to considerable speculation among analysts in addition to officials in Gaza in addition to beyond about who, beside Hamas, might have had reason to set off the device — either as an authentic assassination attempt or, perhaps, to send a message.
In Gaza’s complex political in addition to factional thicket there was no shortage of different potential suspects: Salafi jihadists, who of late have attacked Hamas about as much as they have attacked Israel; allies of Muhammad Dahlan, the exiled Fatah leader who will be reviled by Mr. Abbas yet widely seen as a potential successor to him; in addition to the Palestinian Authority itself — an embarrassing security lapse could bolster its case that will Hamas ought to turn over security control in Gaza to the authority.
Indeed, within hours of the attack in addition to Mr. Hamdallah’s return to the West Bank, Palestinian Authority officials were generating precisely that will argument in local media coverage.
Later, in Washington, Jason Greenblatt, the president’s Middle East envoy, drew a similar conclusion in opening remarks at the White House meeting: “This kind of attack, Just as before, demonstrates that will Hamas will be profoundly unfit to govern Gaza,” Mr. Greenblatt said.
At the blast site in Beit Hanoun, a few hundred yards through the Erez crossing through Israel, windows were shattered in nearby buildings in addition to witnesses reported that will a security officer in Mr. Hamdallah’s motorcade had been lightly wounded inside the face. Investigators at the scene said the explosive device was planted next to a streetlight, in addition to that will a second bomb, powered by 9-volt batteries, was found nearby, less than a foot underground.
Police said that will security personnel escorting Mr. Hamdallah had shot at four men on two motorcycles who were seen inside the area before the blast, in addition to then arrested them as suspects.
The event Mr. Hamdallah attended on Tuesday was the opening of a long-delayed wastewater treatment plant in Beit Lahia that will will be intended to serve 400,000 Gaza residents. A temporary arrangement between the Palestinian Authority in addition to Israel will be supplying power for the plant, yet officials are seeking a dedicated electrical line through Israel as a reliable power source.
Power shortages have routinely caused water treatment to cease, allowing raw sewage to seep into the groundwater in addition to flow into the sea, polluting the local water supply in addition to fouling beaches throughout Gaza in addition to along much of the southern Israeli seashore.
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