Abbas condemns ‘murderous terror attack’ on PA convoy

Abbas condemns ‘murderous terror attack’ on PA convoy

Palestinian leader accuses Hamas of trying to assassinate Prime Minister Hamdallah in order to break away and form own 'suspicious' Gaza state

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (2nd-R), escorted by his bodyguards, is greeted by police forces of the Hamas  terror group (L) upon his arrival in Gaza City on March 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (2nd-R), escorted by his bodyguards, is greeted by police forces of the Hamas terror group (L) upon his arrival in Gaza City on March 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday strongly condemned the explosion that targeted the convoy of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the northern Gaza Strip, calling it a “murderous terror attack.”

Earlier, PA officials said that Abbas was planning a series of meetings with his top advisers to consider ways of responding to the attack.

“This crime was premeditated and its goals and perpetrators are known,” Abbas said during a meeting in his office in Ramallah with Hamdallah and PA General Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj, who was part of the convoy.

Palestinian officials said that Abbas cut short his visit to Jordan and returned to Ramallah upon learning about the incident.

Referring to Hamas, Abbas said that the “de facto” government in the Gaza Strip was responsible for the assassination attempt.

The assassination attempt, he added, was in “concordance” with all attempts to stop the PA government from assuming its responsibilities in the Gaza Strip.

Members of the Hamas security forces inspect the crater left at the site of an explosion that targeted the convoy of the Palestinian Prime Minister during his visit to the Gaza strip on March 13, 2018. (AFP/ MAHMUD HAMS)

The explosion, he added, was also aimed at foiling the “reconciliation” agreement that was reached between his ruling Fatah faction and Hamas in Cairo late last year.

Abbas and other PA leaders had accused Hamas of refusing to “empower” the PA government in the Gaza Strip.

The PA has demanded that Hamas allow it to deploy security forces and collect taxes in the coastal enclave.

The PA has also accused Hamas of refusing to permit Palestinian civil servants to return to the jobs they held before the terror group’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.

During the meeting with Hamdallah and Faraj, the PA president said that Tuesday’s incident was in line with the “suspicious goals of destroying the Palestinian national project by separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank in order to create a suspicious Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.”

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the United Nations Security Council on February 20, 2018 in New York (AFP/Timothy A. Clary)

Again, Abbas and several PA officials had previously made similar charges against Hamas, accusing it of conspiring with “outside powers” to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.

“These attempts will not undermine the spirits of the Palestinian people and leadership,” Abbas told his two top officials.

PA and Fatah officials also held Hamas “fully responsible” for the botched assassination attempt and warned that the terror group which rules the Gaza Strip will be held accountable for the “murderous” attack.

The officials said that the attack also proved that Hamas was the party hindering the implementation of the Egyptian-brokered “reconciliation” deal.

The PA said that seven men injured in the explosion were receiving medical treatment in Ramallah hospitals. But a spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Ministry of the Interior claimed that no one was hurt in the explosion.

Adnan Damiri, spokesperson for the PA security forces in the West Bank, said that Tuesday’s attack reminded him of the Hamas plan to assassinate Abbas several years ago.

“Political assassinations are a tactic of the Muslim Brotherhood,” he charged. “This is a tactic that remains part of Hamas’s mentality of targeting anyone who disagrees with them.”

PLO Executive Committee member Ahmed Majdalani said that the attack was a message from Hamas that it is not interested in ending the dispute with Fatah.

Deputy Fatah chairman Mahmoud al Alojul said the attack was in the context of attempts to “liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Hamas denied any connection to the explosion and said it had launched an investigation. Sources close to Hamas claimed that a number of suspects had been taken into custody.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah waves to the crowd upon his arrival in Gaza City on March 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met in Gaza City with Egyptian security officials and discussed with them the repercussions of the attack on Hamdallah’s convoy. Haniyeh, according to his aides, condemned the attack, saying it was directed against all Palestinians. The incident, he added, should “increase our adherence to reconciliation.”

Haniyeh told the Egyptian officials that his group supported efforts by the PA security forces to find out who was behind the attack on the convoy.

Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum also denied any link to the attack, saying it was aimed at undermining efforts to achieve Palestinian unity. Barhoum denounced the PA for rushing to accuse Hamas of being behind the assassination attempt.

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