PALESTINE (OBSERVATORY) – Palestinian militant group Hamas accused Palestinian Authority officials on Saturday of trying to assassinate Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah during his March 13 visit to the Gaza Strip.
The finger-pointing of a roadside bomb targeting the al-Hamadullah convoy is likely to deepen the bitter political row between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, backed by the West.
Abbas accused Hamas immediately after the incident in Gaza and did not hurt Hamdallah, who led the PA’s efforts to achieve reconciliation with Hamas.
Iyad al-Bazm, spokesman for the Hamas-run interior ministry in the Gaza Strip, told a news conference on Saturday that three senior officers in the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank had orchestrated the blast.
Reuters was unable to verify the allegations independently and the authority refused to accuse Hamas.
The three men, whom Hamas said were suspects in the attack, were killed in an exchange of fire with its troops in Gaza on March 22.
The Ministry of the Interior in Gaza provided a videotape showing confessions of four men who were detained and said they were in a cell led by PA officers in the West Bank. No further evidence was provided.
The assassination attempt diverted efforts to end the split between the two main Palestinian factions, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and Abbas’s Fatah, and is the main force in the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
“The group that carried out the bombings sought to kill Palestinian reconciliation,” said Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of Hamas in Gaza.
Al-Bazem said the suspected Palestinian Authority officers were also behind the assassination attempt on Hamas’s internal security chief, General Tawfiq Abu Naim, in October in Gaza.
A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority security services accused Hamas of the March 13 bombing. “This naive version is an attempt by Hamas to escape its responsibility for trying to blow up the convoy of Prime Minister Dr. Rami al-Hamdallah and the head of the General Intelligence Service, Majid Faraj, and the more Hamas tries to escape the more it implicates itself,” the spokesman said.