Explosion targets Palestinian PM's convoy in Gaza

Islamic Jihad

"Despite what happened we will continue to build our institutions and we will press on with the reconciliation efforts with the help of Egypt", Hamdallah said. They expressed hope that the incident would prompt the Egyptians to intensify their efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah rivalry.

Echoing a message of defiance made popular by Yasser Arafat, Hamdallah declared: "Those who do not like the idea of me being here should go and drink from the Gaza seawater". "This is a very serious crisis, and it will take time to heal the wound".

"Hamas is fully responsible for this cowardly operation that targets the homeland, reconciliation and unity", said Fatah spokesman and Revolutionary Council member Osama al-Qawasmi. In the past two months, the Egyptians have been working hard to prevent the downfall of the "reconciliation" agreement they helped secure late a year ago.

The Palestinian Authority intelligence chief Majed Faraj was also a part of the convoy. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from forces loyal to Abbas.

In October, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority began reconciliation talks, but those have bogged down, even as shortages of clean water, medicine and other necessities have fueled concerns that the dispute could boil over into violence. One had signs of blood on the door, while the others had their windows blown out.

Another senior official, Tawfiq Abu Naim, said "whoever who did this only serves the [Israeli] occupation and is doing what the occupation demands".

The explosion occurred near the spot where a U.S. diplomatic convoy was blown up by a remote-controlled bomb in 2003 shortly after it entered the Gaza Strip.

Hamdallah described the bombing as an "assassination attempt". Hamdallah was not injured and said seven of his bodyguards were wounded.

There was no immediately claim of responsibility for the attack, which Hamas has condemned.

The Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza said several suspects have been arrested in connection with the explosion.

While their personal security guards have been responsible for their immediate safety, the Hamas-dominated security forces have been in charge of security at the different places to which they have traveled including roads, hotels and government offices.

This, according to the sources, shows that the explosion was not aimed at harming anyone, but causing minor damage.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Twitter that "Palestinians in Gaza need a real government that will provide basic services - not today's attack on PA officials trying to inaugurate a water treatment plant desperately needed in Gaza".

Hamdallah cut short a rare visit to Gaza on Tuesday after an explosion targeted his convoy, a source in the delegation said. Hamdallah was not hurt, but quickly returned to his base in the West Bank. The second attack, an explosion targeting Hamas's head of security in Gaza, is widely believed to have been the work of radical Islamists. "This appeal proves that the goals of the explosion are bigger than its size", he added.

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