Hamas official escapes assassination attempt in Lebanon

Hamas has blamed Israel for the explosion in Sidon that wounded Mohammed Hamdan in his leg. (AN photo)
Updated 14 January 2018
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Hamas official escapes assassination attempt in Lebanon

BEIRUT: A Hamas official narrowly escaped death when his car exploded in Sidon, south Lebanon, on Sunday afternoon. 
He escaped the assassination attempt with leg injuries and underwent surgery at Hammoud Hospital in Sidon.
The explosion, from a 500-gram device placed under the driver’s seat, targeted Hamas member Mohammed Omar Hamdan, (aka “Abu hamzah“). It happened while Hamdan was entering his car, which was parked in Albustan Alkabir neighborhood. 
Reporters at the scene said Hamdan told his rescuers he was trying to open his car boot to clean it when the explosion happened.
Jihad Taha, Hamas deputy political official in Lebanon, said: “Hamdan is a member of the movement, and he works at the office of its political official in Lebanon, Ahmad Abdul Hadi.”
Ghassan Ayoub, from the Palestinian People’s Party at Ain Al-Hilweh camp, told Arab News that Hamdan was not active in Sidon; rather, his activities are limited to Beirut. 
“The explosion aimed to kill the target, not just injure him,” Ayoub noted. 
“If Israel targeted Hamdan, it wouldn’t be the first time Israel failed to kill its target.”

The official Lebanese National News Agency reported later that “the explosion resulted from a 500-gram explosive device which was placed under the driver’s seat.”
The Lebanese army command said in a statement: “The explosive device went off in a grey BMW in Albustan Alkabir, which resulted in the injury of its Palestinian owner Mohammad Hamdan. The army forces imposed a security cordon around the area, and the military expert checked the location of the explosion to determine its size and nature.”
Hamdan was the only casualty in the blast, although his wife and one of his children were following him.
A security source said “The forensic evidence section collected the videos recorded by local cameras and listened to witnesses who were present at the scene. The investigation is trying to find out whether the explosion was caused by remote control or due to friction, as well as deciding the time Hamdan parked his car, and whether another person was driving the car.”
Taha accused the Israelis of targeting Hamdan, and so did Ayman Shana’a, a Hamas political official, who stressed that “we are waiting for the results of the investigations of the security forces.”
Hamas declared in a statement that “the initial indicators point to the presence of Zionist links behind the criminal act.” 


Israel shuts down cargo crossing into Gaza to punish Hamas

Updated 41 min 42 sec ago
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Israel shuts down cargo crossing into Gaza to punish Hamas

  • Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza for over a decade in an attempt to weaken Hamas
  • Israel pounded Hamas targets on Saturday in its most massive bombardment since the 2014 war

JERUSALEM: Israel shut down its only cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in response to continued Hamas hostilities, even after it agreed to a cease-fire ending 24 hours of intense fighting.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel will cease transferring gas and fuel through the Kerem Shalom crossing until next Sunday but will allow food and essential medication to cross. He also said Israel was tightening its naval blockade to limit Palestinians from sailing beyond 3 nautical miles off the Gazan coast. Israel previously allowed sailing until 6 nautical miles.
Even after Hamas, Gaza’s militant rulers, agreed to a cease-fire late Saturday, incendiary kites and balloons have continued to float from Gaza into Israel setting off damaging fires to farmlands.
Israel pounded Hamas targets on Saturday in its most massive bombardment since the 2014 war, while militants fired dozens of rockets toward Israel that halted daily life in the area. Two Palestinian teenagers were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, while four Israelis were wounded from a rocket that landed on a residential home in Sderot.
Israel says it has no interest is engaging in another war with Hamas, but says it will no longer tolerate the Gaza militant campaign of flying incendiary kites and balloons across the border that have ignited fires damaging Israeli farms and nature reserves. On Sunday, Israel says it discovered a falcon to which Gaza militant tied an incendiary device meant to set fires. It appeared to be the first case of Gaza militant using animals to attack Israel.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza for over a decade in an attempt to weaken Hamas. The blockade has caused widespread economic hardship. Israel says the naval blockade is necessary to protect its citizens from weapon smuggling.
The weekend’s violence came after months of near-weekly border demonstrations organized by Hamas aimed in part to protest the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza. Over 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began on March 30.
Israel says it is defending its sovereign border and accuses Hamas of using the protests as cover for attempts to breach the border fence and attack Israeli civilians and soldiers.