Hamas says Hamdallah bomber, 2 of its men killed in shootout
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Hamas says Hamdallah bomber, 2 of its men killed in shootout

Second suspect in attack also killed as Gaza police descend on Al Nusseirat refugee camp in Gaza, third suspect arrested

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

A Hamas policeman takes a position in Nuseirat, south of Gaza City on March 22, 2018, during a raid that killed a suspect in a bomb attack against the Palestinian prime minister (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)
A Hamas policeman takes a position in Nuseirat, south of Gaza City on March 22, 2018, during a raid that killed a suspect in a bomb attack against the Palestinian prime minister (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Two Hamas police officers were killed Thursday morning in a shootout that also killed the main suspect in the bombing of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s convoy in the Gaza Strip earlier this month, Hamas said.

The Hamas raid on the Al Nusseirat refugee camp in the Strip came hours after the terror group announced that it had identified a man named Anas Abu Khoussa as the main suspect in the bombing of the convoy.

Salah Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official, initially said that Abu Khoussa and two of his aides were taken into custody. The Hamas-run interior ministry later said Abu Khoussa had been killed along with an accomplice, Abd al Hadi al Ashhab.

A third suspect was arrested.

The ministry had offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who provides information that would lead to the capture of Abu Khoussa.

A spokesperson for the ministry said Thursday morning that security forces had surrounded a house in Al Nusseirat, in the central Gaza Strip, where a number of fugitives were believed to be hiding.

An exchange of gunfire erupted between the fugitives and the Hamas security officers, he added, without providing further details.

The two Hamas police officers killed in the raid were named as Ziad Al Hawajri and Hammad Abu Sourih.

On Wednesday, a Hamas security source said investigators had arrested and were questioning three people, including two members of the PA-run intelligence services, on suspicion of involvement on the March 13 attack, which also targeted the PA’s intelligence chief, Majid Faraj.

Another security source said he believed radical Salafist Muslims had planted the bomb, which lightly injured six people.

Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel that some of the detainees had confessed their involvement in the bombing attack and that Hamas claims they are members of the extremist global terror group Salafia Jihadia.

Hamas’s security chief in Gaza, Tawfiq Abu Naim, said on Saturday that two large bombs had been planted but only one of them detonated due to a technical malfunction. They were placed about 37 meters away from one another.

According to eyewitnesses, the device was detonated seconds before the armored vehicle bearing Hamdallah passed. Ten security guards and staff accompanying the two, who were in non-armored vehicles, were lightly wounded.

On Monday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas lashed out at Hamas, which seized control of Gaza from Abbas’s Fatah faction in 2007, over the incident, condemning the “despicable” attack and saying Hamas would be held to account.

He also said he would not accept information from Hamas regarding its investigation of the incident. Hamas, which has long been at odds with the PA, has denied involvement.

Hamdallah and Faraj were in Gaza amid a recent Egyptian-led push for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, and were slated to inaugurate a new sewage treatment facility, which some hope will help address the territory’s worsening water crisis.

Agencies and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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