Hamas blamed the Palestinian Authority on Saturday for the attempt to assassinate the PA’s own prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, in the Gaza Strip last month.
Eyad al-Bozom, a spokesman for the terror group’s interior ministry in the coastal enclave, told a news conference that the March 13 attack on a convoy in which Hamdallah and the PA’s intelligence chief, Majed Faraj, were traveling was masterminded by three senior officers in the PA, Reuters reported.
The PA and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, have maintained that Hamas was behind the bombing of the convoy.
According to eyewitnesses, the device was detonated seconds before the armored vehicle bearing Hamdallah passed. Neither Hamdallah nor Faraj were hurt in the blast, though 10 security guards and staff accompanying the two, who were in non-armored vehicles, were lightly wounded.
Sources close to Hamas have claimed in the past that the bombing may have been orchestrated by Faraj’s security force as part of a scheme to implicate Hamas and justify further PA sanctions against the Gaza Strip.
On Saturday, Hamas’s interior minister presented videotaped confessions by four suspects captured in the Strip. It said the four had received direction from PA officers in the West Bank.
Bozom, the ministry spokesman, said that the PA officers who ostensibly masterminded the attack on Hamdallah’s convoy were also behind an attempt on the life of Hamas’s security chief, Tawfik Abu Naim, in October.
Hamas maintains that it killed the main suspect in the attempt to assassinate Hamdallah, Anas Abu Khoussa, in a week after the attack, along with one of Abu Khoussa’s aides. Two Hamas police officers were killed in a shootout, the group says.
The Palestinian Authority has dismissed Hamas’s claims to have killed the main suspect, saying its story is “flimsy.”
Hamas’s deputy head in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, alleged during a separate press conference on Saturday that the PA had orchestrated the attack in order “to kill reconciliation.”
In October 2017, after a decade of strife stemming from Hamas’s violent 2007 takeover of the Gaza Strip, the group and Abbas’s Fatah party signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo in which they pledged to set aside their differences and pave the way for Palestinian unity. However, the two rival parties have since failed to reach understandings on the implementation of the deal, and continue to hold each other responsible for its failure.
Abbas has accused Hamas of failing to hand full control of the Gaza Strip over to his Ramallah-based government. He has also threatened to impose new sanctions on Hamas unless it complies with his demands. Hamas, for its part, has accused Abbas of failing to lift sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip last year, including suspending payments to thousands of civil servants. Hamas has also rejected Abbas’s demand to allow his security forces to deploy in the Gaza Strip.
Responding to Hamas’s press conferences on Saturday, a spokesperson for the PA security service told Reuters, “The more Hamas tries to evade responsibility, the deeper it sinks.”