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Palestinian Authority PM Survives Assassination Attempt; Abbas Blames Hamas

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and PA General Intelligence Services Chief Majid Faraj survived an assassination attempt Tuesday morning, when their motorcade was targeted with an explosive device and came under gunfire in the Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian media reports, a number of bystanders were injured, although their exact condition remains unknown. The West Bank-based Palestinian leaders were making a rare trip to the Hamas-ruled enclave to attend a ceremony marking the opening of a new wastewater treatment plant. While it is not yet clear which group perpetrated the attack, PA President Mahmoud Abbas immediately pointed the finger at Hamas, which he said “bears full responsibility for the cowardly [act].” In turn, Hamas condemned the “crime” and denied any involvement before shifting the blame onto Israel. Abbas’ powerful Fatah faction late last year forged a reconciliation agreement with Hamas in a bid to end a decades-long bitter feud. The accord called for the Fatah-dominated PA to assume full administrative control over Gaza—which Hamas has governed since forcibly ejecting Abbas and his allies from the Strip in 2007—but never materialized largely because the terror organization refused to disarm. Multiple PA officials described the assassination attempt as a dangerous development that could lead to grave consequences. By contrast, Hamdallah struck a more conciliatory tone, affirming that, “what happened today strengthens our determination to achieve reconciliation. I will return to the Gaza Strip.”