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Middle East World

Palestinian PM safe in Gaza after explosion near convoy

File photo: Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah waves upon his arrival, in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt in Gaza on Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority said after an explosion near his convoy.

Minutes after the blast, Hamdallah, appearing unhurt, delivered a speech at the inauguration of a waste treatment plant in the Gaza Strip, live TV footage showed. He said in the address that three cars were damaged.

The Authority said it held the enclave’s dominant Hamas group responsible for the attack, stopping short of directly accusing the group of carrying out the assault, but suggesting it had failed to provide adequate security.

Gaza’s Hamas-run interior ministry said the explosion hit as the prime minister’s convoy passed near the northern town of Beit Hanoun. No one was injured and security services had begun an investigation, ministry spokesman Eyad Al-Bozom said.

The prime minister is based in the occupied West Bank and travelled overland, via Israel, to the Gaza Strip. Police said the explosion came shortly after Hamdallah’s convoy passed by, and one witness said it appeared two cars at the end of motorcade sustained damage.

“The Palestinian Presidency holds Hamas responsible for the cowardly targeting of the Prime Minister’s convoy in Gaza,” the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Hamas and Abbas’s Palestinian Authority are still divided over how to implement an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

“The attack against the government of consensus is an attack against the unity of the Palestinian people,” said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The explosion occurred near the spot where a US diplomatic convoy was blown up by a remote-controlled bomb in 2003 shortly after it entered the Gaza Strip. Three American security specialists were killed and a US diplomat was injured in that blast.

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