Blast hits Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah’s convoy in Gaza

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    Shortly after the incident, Hamdallah returned to Ramallah where he gave a short address outside his office [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

    An explosion has wounded several security guards of Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian prime minister, but left him unharmed during a visit to the Gaza Strip to open a public-works facility there.

    The blast happened on Tuesday shortly after Hamdallah’s convoy passed through the Israeli-controlled Erez checkpoint, known to Palestinians as Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, an Al Jazeera correspondent in Gaza said.

    Hamdallah, who heads the Palestinian Authority government based in Ramallah in the West Bank, appeared on live television following the incident at the inauguration of  a wastewater-treatment plant in Hamas-run Gaza.

    Shortly afterwards, he returned to Ramallah, where he gave a brief address outside his office.

    He said seven of his guards were injured in the blast, and they were being treated in hospitals across Ramallah.

    “It [the attack] does not represent patriotism. It is a cowardly act that does not represent our people, nor does it represent the people of Gaza,” Hamdallah said on Tuesday afternoon.

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    Majed Faraj, the Palestinian Authority intelligence chief, was part of the convoy.

    Fatah, the West Bank-based political party to which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas belongs, called the incident a “terrorist attack” and blamed it on Hamas.

    “This attack is an attempt to kill all reconciliation efforts. It is a dangerous step aimed at spreading disorder and fighting among our people,” Munir al-Jaghoub, who heads Fatah‘s information department at the Office of Mobilisation and Organisation, said on Tuesday.

    “We demand that Hamas expedite its investigation. The developments have proven that Hamas has completely failed in providing security in Gaza, just as it has failed in providing a decent life for our people in the strip.”

    Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian political parties, signed a reconciliation agreement in October 2017, ending a decade of division that saw two parallel governments operating in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera, Iyad al-Buzom, Gaza’s interior ministry spokesperson, said the act of placing blame “has a political dimension”.

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    “Here in Gaza, we take all the security precautions to welcome all the convoys and delegations and particularly the prime minister as he entered Gaza,” he said.

    He said “several suspects were arrested a short while ago”, and that an investigation “to find out who was behind the explosion” is under way.

    The agreement to form a unity government was signed in the Egyptian capital in Cairo on October 13, but efforts to implement the agreement have faced several obstacles. 

    Mustafa Ibrahim, a Gaza-based political analyst, believes there are “several sides who are benefiting from this explosion”. 

    “We will hear Fatah saying that some members of Hamas do not want reconciliation, and likewise, we will hear Hamas saying this could have been a fabricated attack by Fatah’s security services,” Ibrahim told Al Jazeera.

    “The ones who will pay the price are the Palestinian people themselves. The Palestinian Authority may impose more punitive measures against the Gaza Strip and it is imperative that Hamas captures those behind the attack as soon as possible.

    View the original article: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/explosion-hits-palestinian-pm-rami-hamdallah-enters-gaza-180313083301418.html

    “This explosion will have repercussions for the people in Gaza.”

    Hamdallah was in Gaza to inaugurate a wastewater-treatment plant [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

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