PA: Hamas claims that it killed convoy bombing suspect are ‘illogical’

Accusations come after Hamas says it killed the main suspect in the attempted assassination of the Palestinian prime minister

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

Hamas policemen carry out a raid in Nuseirat, south of Gaza City on March 22, 2018, that resulted in the arrest of a suspect in a recent bomb attack against the Palestinian prime minister, officials said. ( AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)
Hamas policemen carry out a raid in Nuseirat, south of Gaza City on March 22, 2018, that resulted in the arrest of a suspect in a recent bomb attack against the Palestinian prime minister, officials said. ( AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday dismissed Hamas’s claims that it killed the suspect behind the bombing attack against the convoy of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah earlier this month, saying its story was “flimsy.”

The PA accused Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, of “creating flimsy and illogical accounts” about the circumstances surrounding Thursday’s raid on a house in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, where the prime suspect, Anas Abu Khoussa, was hiding.

Hamas said that Abu Khoussa, one of his aides and two Hamas police officers were killed during the raid.

Hamas official Salah Bardaweel initially said that Abu Khoussa had been arrested together with two of his accomplices. Some reports initially said that Abu Khoussa had suffered moderate to serious wounds during the raid.

However, the Hamas-run Ministry of Interior later announced that Abu Khoussa had been killed during an exchange of gunfire with the Hamas police force that surrounded the house he was hiding in.

A man who was with Abu Khoussa, and who was identified as Abd al Hadi al Ashhab, was also killed, the ministry said.

The raid came hours after Hamas announced a $5,000 award for anyone who provides information leading to the capture of Abu Khoussa.

A vehicle damaged in the explosion that went off near Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s convoy is seen in the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun on March 13, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Responding to the Hamas operation, the PA government accused the terror group that rules the Gaza Strip of “drawing distorted scenarios” about the bombing of the convoy to divert attention from its responsibility for the attack.

The PA’s attack on Hamas came in wake of reports suggesting that Abu Khoussa and some of his accomplices were linked to the the West Bank-based General Intelligence Service headed by Majed Faraj.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Saeb Erekat in Jerusalem, April 2012. Netanyahu aide Yitzhak Molcho is at left, and PA security chief Majed Faraj is at second left. (Amos Ben Gershom /GPO/Flash90)

Sources close to the PA General Intelligence Service claimed that Abu Khoussa was most likely affiliated with Salafi-Jihadi groups operating in the Gaza Strip.

Faraj was part of the convoy that was targeted by the explosion last week. Neither he nor Hamdallah was hurt in the apparent assassination attempt.

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.

Sources close to Hamas have claimed 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.

Yusef al Mahmoud, spokesman for the Hamdallah government in Ramallah, denounced what he called Hamas’s attempt to spread rumors about the responsibility of the PA and its institutions for the bombing of the convoy. The Hamas claims, he said, “did not rise to a level that would be acceptable to the human mind.”

Mahmoud repeated PA charges that Hamas was fully responsible for the “criminal, terror attack” on the premier’s convoy in the northern Gaza Strip. He also renewed his appeal to Hamas to instantly hand over control of the entire Gaza Strip to the PA government.

Adnan Damiri, spokesperson for the PA security forces in the West Bank, accused Hamas of lying to the Palestinian public in order to distract attention from its responsibility for the alleged assassination attempt.

Damiri said that Hamas had previously killed some of its members to stop them from exposing “dangerous information” about the terror group’s leaders.

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