Gaza blast targets Palestinian PM Hamdallah’s convoy

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (2nd R) is greeted by Hamas security chief Tawfiq Abu Naim (C) upon his arrival in Gaza City on 13 March 2018Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rami Hamdallah attended a ceremony in Gaza after the explosion

An explosion in the Gaza Strip has targeted the convoy of the Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah.

Mr Hamdallah was unharmed, but there are reports of some injuries.

President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the “cowardly” attack on the convoy and said he held the militant group Hamas, which dominates Gaza, responsible.

The incident took place amid heightened tensions between the main Palestinian factions over the implementation of a reconciliation deal signed last year.

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been ruled separately since a rift between Hamas and Mr Abbas’s Fatah faction erupted in violence in 2007.

Hamas won parliamentary elections in the occupied territories the previous year, and reinforced its power in Gaza after ousting Fatah from the enclave.

According to witnesses, a passenger on a motorbike threw an explosive device at the last car in the prime minister’s convoy shortly after it entered Gaza through the Erez Crossing with Israel on Monday morning.

Photographs showed one 4×4 vehicle with its windows apparently blown out and airbags deployed.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption One of the vehicles in the convoy appeared to have its windows blown out by the blast

President Abbas’s office said it held Hamas responsible for the explosion, which it said targeted Mr Hamdallah and the head of intelligence, Majed Faraj – both senior members of Fatah.

Hamas called the attack an “ugly crime” and said it had launched an investigation.

Mr Hamdallah went on to appear at an event to open a water treatment plant.

He said that despite the attack he remained committed to Palestinian unity and would continue to come to Gaza. His convoy later left the territory.

Mr Hamdallah and Hamas leaders were due to meet an Egyptian security delegation during this visit to discuss ways to overcome their differences.

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