Exclusive: Gaza’s Bombing: Does it Destroy Reconciliation?

Exclusive: Gaza’s Bombing: Does it Destroy Reconciliation?

Saturday, 17 March, 2018 - 10:45
Members of the Hamas security forces inspect the crater left at the site of an explosion that targeted the convoy of the Palestinian Prime Minister during his visit to the Gaza strip, near the Erez crossing, in Beit Hanun, the northern access point into the coastal Palestinian territory, on March 13, 2018. MAHMUD HAMS / AFP
Ramallah - Kifah Ziboun
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not hesitate this week to describe Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s assassination attempt as a crime aimed at ending the Palestinian reconciliation.

Abbas implied that the movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, or parties allied with it were responsible for the roadside bombing that targeted Hamdallah’s convoy in the enclave.

Other Palestinian officials also held Hamas responsible. But Gaza's rulers denied involvement.

Fatah official Munir al-Jaghoub said: “We haven’t accused Hamas.”

“But the group is surely responsible because it rules Gaza and rejects to hand over security there to the Palestinian Authority,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“There is a failure in Hamas’ security system in the enclave,” Jaghoub said. “It’s the same system that allowed terrorist, extremist and murderous organizations to grow and operate there.”

Fatah is awaiting the result of the investigation launched by Hamas, he told the newspaper.

Other suspects include several armed groups - with links to local and foreign parties - that operate in Gaza.

But some analysts have ruled out Hamas’ responsibility in the bombing, saying had it planned for the attack, Hamdallah wouldn’t have survived it.

Hamas has huge capabilities on the ground. In addition to having thousands of security officers, the movement has an armed wing that is the primary force in Gaza.

Many believe that Israel is the first to benefit from such an attack by putting an already troubled reconciliation process between the rival factions into deeper turmoil.

The attack could also have been the work of hardline factions rejecting negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, or opposition figures inside Fatah.

Although it’s not yet clear on who stands behind the attack, it won’t take long for Hamas to announce the result of its probe.

Political analyst Akram Atallah questioned why a joint committee was not tasked with investigating the bombing. “How would we know that the true results would be announced?” he asked.

“Would there be transparency in the announcement of the results?” he wondered.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that all those investigated remain suspects and are not accused of carrying out the attack.

“So far no one can be accused,” they said.

Palestine Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat described the attack on Hamdallah as a “premeditated attempt to plant the culture of crime and chaos in the minds of our people who are resisting Israel and building the state.”

The party that carried out the assassination attempt is seeking to find an alternative Palestinian leadership, he said.

Erekat urged Hamas to swiftly “end the coup and division.”

After the bombing, the Palestinian Prime Minister vowed to press ahead with reconciliation efforts.

He said the attack underscored the need for the Palestinians to unify under a single authority. Hamas has ceded some government functions and control of Gaza's borders, but it has refused calls to disarm and let Palestinian Authority security forces take over.

"How can a government overtake Gaza without maintaining security? We ask Hamas one more time to empower the government," he said.

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