Palestinian prime minister survives bomb blast

On a rare visit to Gaza, Palestinian PM's convoy is attacked.

March 13, 2018, 11:54 AM

JERUSALEM -- An apparent roadside bomb struck the convoy of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah Tuesday morning in the Gaza Strip, injuring several people, according to authorities.

Fatah, Hamdallah's political party that controls the West Bank, immediately called it an attempted assassination and said it holds Gaza's militant ruling party, Hamas, responsible.

The explosion went off shortly after his convoy entered the strip through the Erez Crossing with Israel, and the moment was caught on camera. In the video below, the blast hits at the 42 second mark.

Hamdallah was not hurt but according to video and photos from the scene, three of the vehicles were damaged, and one had blood on the door. The Palestinian Authority intelligence chief, Majid Faraj, was also traveling with Hamdallah.

In a statement, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank, said, “Hamas bears full responsibility for the cowardly targeting of the prime minister’s motorcade in Gaza.”

"Hamas opening an investigation is not enough," he said. "We need to find the full truth, and who is behind this attack."

“The attack against the government of consensus is an attack against the unity of the Palestinian people,” Rudeineh added.

Hamas security officials inspect one of the cars of Palestinian Prime Minister Ramil Hamdallah's convoy that was targeted in an attack after his arrival in Beit Hanun town, the northern Gaza Strip, March 13, 2018.
Mohammed Saber/EPA via Shutterstock
Palestinians inspect the site of an explosion that targeted a convoy that was carrying Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, in the northern Gaza Strip March 13, 2018.
Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Hamas said the targeting of Hamdallah’s motorcade was “part of attempts to damage the security of Gaza and deal a blow to efforts to finalize reconciliation."

Hamdallah was in Gaza to cut the ribbon at a $75 million sewage plant project funded by The World Bank, European Union and other European governments that had been in the works for years. Immediately after the attack, he said he would go ahead with the visit and it would “not deter from seeking to end the bitter split. We will still come to Gaza.”

Fatah and Hamas have been in a stand-off since Hamas won control over Gaza in 2006. Since then, Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip while the Fatah Party have governed the West Bank, which is occupied by Israel. Hamdallah is now spearheading new negotiations to unify the two Palestinian factions.

Hamdallah returned safely to Ramallah in the West Bank and addressed the attack to an applauding crowd. “It was a well planned attempt," he said. "They planted explosive devices two meters deep."

Jason Greenblatt, President Trump's special representative for international negotiations who has been leading the effort in Israel and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, was quick to condemn the attack on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Jared Kushner, President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, planned to hold a "brainstorming session" on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In a statement, the White House said Kushner "will present present specific proposals for consideration to help the people of Gaza." The Palestinian Authority said it would boycott the event.

Bruno Nota and Nasser Atta reported from Jerusalem, Molly Hunter reported from London.