Bomb targets Palestinian PM´s convoy in rare Gaza visit

Bomb targets Palestinian PM´s convoy in rare Gaza visit

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned on Tuesday the assassination attempt of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and head of intelligence Majid Faraj in the Gaza Strip, saying that "this crime was premeditated and its goals and perpetrators are known".

Neither Hamdallah nor Faraj were injured, but seven of the Prime Minister's bodyguards were lightly wounded.

After the attack, Hamdallah briefly appeared at the opening of a wastewater treatment facility in Gaza before cutting short his visit and returning to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where his government is based. His convoy entered Gaza via the Erez crossing and was attacked a few minutes later. Israel offered medical assistance to the casualties, but all were treated in Ramallah.

The administration is also putting the final touches on a Middle East peace plan, and USA officials said the conference was integral to future negotiations.

"Whoever carried out this act directly serves the interest of the Israeli occupation, the main beneficiary from the division", the statement added.

Gaza faces a 43.6 unemployment rate, and many in Gaza blame Israel for the hardships, accusing it of placing an economic blockade on the enclave that has drastically reduced movement of people and goods.

After immediately returning to Ramallah from a trip overseas, Abbas said that the bomb blast targeting the PM's convoy was in line with the "suspicious goals of destroying the Palestinian national project ... in order to create a suspicious Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip".

The attempt on Hamdallah's life underlined the continued tensions between Hamas and Fatah, which have been at odds since 2007, when Hamas took over Gaza in a bloody coup.

A Hamas spokesman said that a number of arrests had been made, and that security forces were investigating the incident.

The group was referring to the shooting death last May of Faqha in an attack Hamas blamed on Israel's internal security agency, the Shin Bet. "It was a roadside bomb about two metres into the ground", Hamdallah said at his office upon his return.

"I condemn the attack on the convoy of Rami Hamdallah in Gaza and commend the PM's leadership to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza and achieve reconciliation".

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has boycotted a conference at the White House over the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, according to local media reports.

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