The head of Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip was injured Friday when his car exploded in what the Hamas interior ministry called “a failed assassination attempt.”
It did not immediately give details of the source of the explosion, in central Gaza.
“Tawfiq Abu Naim, director general of the internal security forces, survived a failed assassination attempt Friday after his car was blown up in the Nusseirat refugee camp,” a ministry statement said.
“He was moderately wounded and was treated in hospital,” it added. “The security services immediately began investigations to discover the circumstances of the incident and to catch the perpetrators.”
The incident comes at a time of tension within Gaza as its Hamas rulers are to start handing over power to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority of Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Both Hamas and Fatah condemned the incident and blamed it on “enemies” trying to undermine the reconciliation. However, neither named the enemies, an unusual step for Hamas, which routinely blames Israel for such events.
A Hamas source told the Ynet news site that Islamic State affiliated terrorists were the main suspects.
As part of the Palestinian unity deal that was brokered by Egypt, Hamas has had to crackdown on the IS gunmen who have been active on both sides of Gaza’s border with Egypt have been fighting a bitter insurgency in the Sinai that has killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers.
Abu Naim has been leading the recent Hamas efforts against IS.
However, the Popular Resistance Committees, a group of smaller terror groups in the Strip, blamed Israel, saying “the fingerprints of the Zionists are clear.”
Abu Naim was a former prisoner that Israel freed with hundreds of others in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.
The rival Palestinian movements signed a landmark unity deal this month aimed at ending their decade-long split.
The PA is due to resume control of the Gaza Strip by December 1 under the deal. However, previous such attempts at reconciliation have repeatedly failed. A major sticking point is expected to be Hamas’s refusal to disarm its 25,000-strong armed wing.
The Hamas terror group seized Gaza in 2007 in a near civil war with Fatah that followed an electoral dispute after polls were won by Hamas. After Hamas’s victory, it faced demands from the international community that it renounce violence and recognize Israel, which it refused to do.
Hamas has faced increasing isolation and deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip in recent months, including a severe electricity shortage.