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Explosion strikes Palestinian PM Hamdallah's convoy in Gaza

EXPLOSION STRIKES PALESTINIAN PM HAMDALLAHS CONVOY IN GAZA

An explosion struck near the convoy of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

An explosion has struck the convoy of the Palestinian prime minister during a rare visit to Gaza, sparking fears of an assassination attempt. Three of the vehicles in his convoy were damaged, their windows blown out. One had signs of blood on the door.

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt in Gaza on Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority said after an explosion near his convoy.

Minutes after the blast, Hamdallah, appearing unhurt, delivered a speech at the inauguration of a waste treatment plant in the Gaza Strip, live TV footage showed. He said in the address that three cars were damaged.

The Authority said it held the enclave's dominant Hamas group responsible for the attack, stopping short of directly accusing the group of carrying out the assault, but suggesting it had failed to provide adequate security.

Gaza's Hamas-run interior ministry said the explosion hit as the prime minister's convoy passed near the northern town of Beit Hanoun. No one was injured and security services had begun an investigation, ministry spokesman Eyad Al-Bozom said.

The prime minister is based in the occupied West Bank and travelled overland, via Israel, to the Gaza Strip. Police said the explosion came shortly after Hamdallah's convoy passed by, and one witness said it appeared two cars at the end of motorcade sustained damage.

"The Palestinian Presidency holds Hamas responsible for the cowardly targeting of the Prime Minister's convoy in Gaza," the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Hamas and Abbas's Palestinian Authority are still divided over how to implement an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

"The attack against the government of consensus is an attack against the unity of the Palestinian people," said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The explosion occurred near the spot where a U.S. diplomatic convoy was blown up by a remote-controlled bomb in 2003 shortly after it entered the Gaza Strip. Three American security specialists were killed and a U.S. diplomat was injured in that blast.

HAMAS CONDEMNS EXPLOSION TARGETING PM HAMDALLAH
Hamas has condemned the Gaza explosion that targeted the convoy of visiting Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

In a statement, Hamas called Tuesday's blast a "crime" and said it was an attempt to "hurt efforts to achieve unity and reconciliation." It promised an "urgent" investigation.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since seizing it from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Hamas condemned President Mahmoud Abbas for blaming it for the blast, and Abbas' security chief, Majed Farraj, said it was "too early" to say who was responsible.

Hamdallah, who was not hurt, left Gaza and was headed back to the West Bank.

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