Bomb Targets Palestinian Authority PM's Convoy as It Enters Gaza

Explosion Targets Palestinian Prime Minister's Convoy in Gaza Strip

Tensions heated up between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas on Tuesday after the prime minister survived an attack on his motorcade during a rare visit to the Gaza Strip, the latest setback in efforts to mend a decadelong rift. Spokesman for Interior Ministry in Gaza said security forces were investigating the explosion. The two agreed in October to begin negotiations on reunification, with Egypt serving as mediator. "What happened today will not stop us from continuing reconciliation efforts". Hamdallah immediately returned to the West Bank after delivering the speech.

Hamas, which rules Gaza and is entrusted with its security, is not believed to be behind the attack, while extreme Islamic fringe organizations have been implicated.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The White House was due to hold a meeting later on Tuesday, addressed by U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East peace negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who are putting together U.S. proposals for a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority may impose more punitive measures against the Gaza Strip, and it is imperative that Hamas captures those behind the attack as soon as possible.

"We condemn the crime of targeting the convoy of Dr. Rami Hamdallah", said a Hamas statement posted on Twitter.

"This attack will increase our determination to achieve Palestinian reconciliation and will not dissuade me from continuing to come to Gaza", he said. "It was a well planned attempt", he said.

The takeover left the Palestinians with two rival governments, Hamas in Gaza and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority governing autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Rami Hamdallah reportedly passed through a checkpoint in northern Gaza when an explosion struck the convoy.

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

This was supposed to be a crucial and celebratory visit by Hamdallah, who has not visited Gaza for over five months.

Meanwhile, Hamas movement rejected what it called the "readily available accusations" and denied having any connection to the attack. Those remarks were echoed by Abbas who met with Hamdallah a few hours after the incident, which he described as a "criminal and terrorist, sinful attempt".

The World Bank, European Union and other European governments have paid almost $75 million in funding.

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