An explosion struck the convoy carrying Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, as he visited Gaza to inaugurate a new sewage plant, The Times of Israel reported Tuesday. The attack raises questions whether the two main Palestinian factions can cooperate to govern effectively, a condition necessary for statehood.
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The PA accused Hamas, the terrorist group that dominates the Gaza Strip both politically and militarily, with attempting to assassinate Hamdallah.
Three vehicles in the convoy were reported damaged and an unknown number of bystanders were injured. The PA said that Hamdallah and PA General Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj were uninjured.
PA civil affairs minister Hussein Al Sheikh said that Hamas would be held responsible “murderous” assassination attempt and warned that the terror group could suffer consequences.
Hamas, however, denied responsibility for the attack.
Hamdallah continued with the visit and insisted that the attack would not deter the PA “from seeking to end the bitter split.” He added, “We will still come to Gaza.”
Hamas and Fatah, the main constituent party of the PA, have been unable to reconcile since a bloody 2007 coup, when Hamas forcibly expelled Fatah from the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian officials contacted the Israeli military liaison to ensure Hamdallah’s safe exit from the Gaza Strip. Israel offered to medical assistance to those injured and some were treated by Israeli doctors inside Israel.
The PA insists that Hamas has not allowed it to fulfill all of the duties it was supposed to undertake according to a reconciliation agreement brokered by Egypt at the end of last year. Hamas has said that the PA has not lifted sanctions of Gaza as it was supposed to have done.
The divisions highlighted by the responses to the explosion were on display earlier this week when the Palestinian Authority boycotted a White House meeting devoted to coordinating international aid for Gaza. Seventeen nations, including Israel, were represented at the meeting.
[Photo: euronews (in English) / YouTube]