GAZA CITY — A road side bomb exploded near the convoy of the Palestinian prime minister as he was visiting the Gaza Strip, damaging three escort vehicles and causing minor injuries to seven bodyguards.
The blast, which did not harm Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah, was declared by the Palestinian Authority an assassination attempt and it held Hamas, the Islamist party controlling the Gaza Strip responsible — the latest blow to reconciliation efforts between the divided Palestinians.
For its part, Hamas condemned the incident and opened an investigation, already arresting several suspects.
Hamdallah was there to meet with Hamas officials in an attempt to restart reconciliation talks but the meeting was canceled after the blast. He did go on to attend the scheduled opening of a wastewater treatment plant in northern Gaza Strip before leaving through the same Erez crossing.
The prime minister made a statement shortly after the explosion, saying it would “not deter from seeking to end the bitter split. We will still come to Gaza,” local media reported.
The rival Palestinian political factions, who have been at odds since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup more than 10 years ago, signed a reconciliation pact last October.
For the last decade, the two parts of the Palestinian territories, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, were ruled by mutually antagonistic groups that only recently agreed to bury their differences.
The strip has suffered from a civilian and military blockade by Israel since Hamas took over rule of the area in 2007.
Eglash reported from Jerusalem.