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Palestinian PM Survives Assassination Attempt in Gaza


Hamas security services personnel inspect the site of a Tuesday explosion that occurred as the convoy of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah entered Gaza through the Erez crossing with Israel, on the main road in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, March 13, 2018.

An assassination attempt in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has thrown a wrench into peace talks between rival Palestinian factions.

An explosion struck the convoy of the Palestinian prime minister during a rare visit to Gaza.Officials say Rami Hamdallah, who is based in the West Bank, was not hurt by the bomb but several cars were damaged.

The attack casts a shadow over reconciliation efforts by rival Palestinian governments.The Islamic militant group Hamas expelled the Palestinian Authority to the West Bank during a civil war in Gaza in 2007; but last year they launched talks to try to settle their differences and return Gaza to Palestinian Authority control.

The Palestinian Authority, which is backed by the United States and Europe, described the explosion as an assassination attempt and quickly blamed Hamas.

Palestinian official Elias Zananiri described it as a "very grave" and "heinous" incident, and noted that there are many elements within Hamas that oppose reconciliation.

But Hamas condemned the explosion as an attempt to harm unity, and promised an "urgent" investigation.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah walks behind a bodyguard as he receives an honor guard on his arrival to the opening ceremony for a long-awaited sewage plant project east of Jebaliya, in the northern Gaza strip, March 13, 2018.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah walks behind a bodyguard as he receives an honor guard on his arrival to the opening ceremony for a long-awaited sewage plant project east of Jebaliya, in the northern Gaza strip, March 13, 2018.

That was good enough for Prime Minister Hamdallah, who continued his trip to Gaza despite the bombing.

In a speech inaugurating a sewage treatment facility, he vowed reconciliation efforts would continue.

Nevertheless, the attack underscores the deep divisions and mistrust between the two factions.Hamas refuses to give up its weapons, which it vows to use against Israel, while the Palestinian Authority seeks a negotiated peace with the Jewish state.

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