Palestinians condemn bombing targeting Palestinian PM's convoy in Gaza

Source: Xinhua| 2018-03-13 21:09:35|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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RAMALLAH, March 13 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinians on Tuesday condemned the roadside bombing targeting the convoy of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in northern Gaza Strip.

Hamdallah, accompanied by Chief of Security Intelligence Magid Faraj, arrived in Gaza earlier Tuesday morning from the West Bank city of Ramallah through the Erez crossing bordering Israel.

As soon as the convoy crossed the checkpoint and entered the coastal enclave, a bomb went off on the roadside near the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun close to the convoy, which consisted of some 20 vehicles.

Iyad al-Bozzom, spokesman of the Hamas-run Gaza Interior Ministry, said in an emailed statement that the explosion occurred after the prime minister's convoy passed by, but there were no injuries.

"The convoy went on to reach its destination and the internal security bodies are investigating the incident," he said.

Hamdallah was headed for the opening ceremony of a Europe-funded desalination plant treating waste water in northern Gaza.

The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party officials condemned the explosion, while holding Hamas, which has been ruling the coastal Palestinian enclave since 2007, responsible for the attack.

On their way out of Gaza, Faraj told reporters that he blamed Hamas for the bombing.

"The bombing is a cowardly operation aimed at damaging the unity of our people and their homeland. We maintain our position on unity," said Faraj, adding that Abbas insisted that the convoy stay in Gaza to carry on with its plan.

Asked if he accuses any party for carrying out the bombing attack, Faraj stressed that "it is early to accuse anyone but who is present (Hamas) bears full responsibility for ensuring the safety of the road."

Hamdallah told reporters at the inauguration ceremony in northern Gaza that "despite what happened, we are committed to resolving all Gaza problems."

"We call on Hamas to enable the consensus government to take over power in Gaza. I say in spite of the explosion today, this won't stop us from carrying on with our mission to achieve unity and end split," said the Prime Minister.

Hamdallah called on Hamas to seek unity, adding that "three cars in my convoy were badly damaged near Beit Hanoun, and this will never prevent us from getting rid of the bitter division."

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman of Abbas, said in a press statement that Hamas is fully responsible for the safety of Hamdallah, adding that "the attack on the convoy is an attack on the Palestinian people and their national unity."

On the other hand, Hamas movement also slammed Tuesday the "crime" of targeting the convoy of Hamdallah.

In a statement, Hamas said the attack is meant to undermine the Egyptian-sponsored efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, which rules the West Bank.

The Islamic movement also deplored the accusations by the Palestinian presidency that Hamas is responsible for attack, adding that such charges will help the "criminals" behind the attack to achieve their goals.

The organization added that the ones who targeted Hamdallah's convoy are the same ones who assassinated Mazen Fuqaha, a top militant commander who Hamas held Israel responsible for his murder last year.

Hamas and Fatah signed last October in Cairo an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement, under which Hamas agreed to handle over its power in Gaza to the consensus government of Hamdallah.

However, the two rivals failed to fully implement the agreement as scheduled due to the huge differences on paying salaries of Hamas employees, whom the movement appointed after it seized control of Gaza in 2007.

A senior Egyptian delegation has been in Gaza for several weeks holding talks between the two sides to bridge the gaps and resolve the outstanding issues that block the implementation of the reconciliation deal.