GAZA CITY — A suicide bomber killed a Hamas guard in southern Gaza early Thursday when forces tried to stop him from infiltrating into Egypt, members of the terror organization said, in what sources described as a rare attack against the Islamist group.
“Early this morning security forces stopped two people approaching the southern border (with Egypt),” an interior ministry spokesman in the Hamas-run territory said in a statement.
“One of them blew himself up,” it added.
Later a medical source confirmed a member of Hamas had died in the attack.
The source named the man as Nidal al-Jaafari, 28.
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The Hamas-run interior ministry said the assailant died and a companion was injured. One of the people wounded was reported in serious condition.
The bombing early Thursday is the first time that a Palestinian has set off a suicide bomb against Hamas forces. Officials said he is believed to be an Islamic State member.
Eyewitnesses said hundreds of Hamas men were deployed along the border after the explosion, which occurred near Gaza’s southern border with Egypt.
The terror group, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, has run Gaza for a decade but have been regularly criticized by more radical jihadist groups in the Strip.
It would be the first time a suicide attack has targeted Hamas forces in Gaza, the security sources said.
Hamas has long been accused by the government in neighboring Egypt of aiding the Islamic insurgency in Egypt’s restive North Sinai region.
In recent months, Hamas has beefed up security along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt seeking to assure Cairo that it is fighting IS sympathizers.
Israel, the only other country Gaza borders, has maintained a decade-long blockade on the strip it says is necessary to prevent the terror group from acquiring weapons that could be used to launch attacks on the Jewish state.