Attack on Al-Hamdallah aimed at derailing reconciliation talks

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (2nd-R), escorted by his bodyguards, is greeted by police forces of the Islamist Hamas movement (L) upon his arrival in Gaza City, in this March 13, 2018 photo. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2018
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Attack on Al-Hamdallah aimed at derailing reconciliation talks

AMMAN: The failed assassination attempt against the Palestinian prime minister on Tuesday had one target — internal Palestinian reconciliation.
The small explosive and the shots fired at the convoy, that also included the head of the Palestinian intelligence, Majed Farraj, has sent political shock waves throughout the Palestinian political map. It was a crude reminder of an attempt against President Abbas in 2007. At the time the president’s security officers uncovered four large explosive devices that were intended to kill Abbas.
Omar Kullab, a political analyst in Jordan of Gazan origin, told Arab News that the best response to the attempt on the prime minister's life, is to move ahead with reconciliation talks.
“We don’t know who is behind it. It might be the Israelis or ISIS (Daesh), but I doubt it is Hamas. Nevertheless, I think that the attitude of Prime Minister (Rami) Hamdallah is the correct one, namely to move even faster ahead with the reconciliation efforts.”
But the attack puts Hamas under the spotlight at a time when the territory they rule is suffering one of the worst economic and humanitarian periods since the Israeli blockade began.
Nahed Abo Tueima, a lecturer on gender issues at Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, believes that Hamas, as the party in charge of security in Gaza, is responsbile for what happened under its watch.
“Hamas claims that it has a strong security force in Gaza and therefore it is fully responsible for what happens.” Tueima, who was born in Gaza, told Arab News. “It needs to allow for joint investigation in order to uncover who exactly is behind what happened.”
Annes Sweidan, head of the external department in the Palestine Liberation Organization, also feels Hamas has to be held responsible. “They can’t shake off their responsibility even if they didn’t do it. The reconciliation will certainly be negatively affected by the attack,” Sweidan told Arab News.
But regardless of the motive or who is behind the attack, there is no doubt that the situation in Gaza is very volatile and needs close attention. Kullab, the Jordanian-Palestinian analyst, believes that the timing of the attack is not coincidental. “It happened on the same day that a meeting is due to take place in the White House to talk about the situation in Gaza.
The timing of the attack is not innocent, but is meant to send some kind of message to Ramallah and Washington,’ Kullab told Arab News.
Hamadeh Faraneh, a member of the Palestinian National Council, told Arab News that Palestinian leaders should not deviate from their goal. “The reconciliation is of utmost importance for the national interest of the Palestinian people and it must be pursued no matter what happened.”
But despite all the brave talk, the attack on the convoy of Palestinian leaders from Ramallah, deep in the Gaza Strip, will leave its scars for a long time to come.
The attack is sure to delay the visit by President Abbas to Gaza further. The president had promised to come once the reconciliation is totally in effect and the security situation is stable.


Israeli planes hit 25 targets in response to Gaza rocket fire

Updated 20 June 2018
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Israeli planes hit 25 targets in response to Gaza rocket fire

JERUSALEM: Israeli jets struck 25 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Wednesday after militants launched rockets and mortar shells at Israeli territory, the military said.
Two Hamas security men were lightly hurt in one air strike in the southern Gaza Strip, residents said. No casualties were reported in Israel after one of the most intense recent barrages of militant rocket launches and Israeli air strikes.
Air raid sirens and Israeli phone warning applications sounded throughout the pre-dawn hours.
The military counted 30 rockets and mortar shells fired at Israeli territory and said its Iron Dome anti-missile shield intercepted seven rockets.
Since its last war with Gaza’s dominant Hamas in 2014, Israel has stepped up efforts to prevent cross-border attacks, improving rocket interceptors and investing in technologies for detecting and destroying guerrilla tunnels.
In recent weeks, Palestinians have sent kites dangling coal embers or burning rags across the Gaza border to set fire to arid farmland and forests, others have carried small explosive devices in a new tactic that has caused extensive damage.
At least 127 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops during mass demonstrations along the Gaza border since March 30 and the men sending the kites over the fence believe they have found an effective new weapon.
Israel’s deadly tactics in confronting the weekly Friday protests have drawn international condemnation.
Palestinians say the protests are an outpouring of rage by people demanding the right to return to homes their families fled or were driven from following the founding of Israel 70 years ago.
Israel says the demonstrations are organized by the Islamist group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip and denies Israel’s right to exist. Israel says Hamas has intentionally provoked the violence, a charge Hamas denies.
Around two million people live in Gaza, most of them the stateless descendants of refugees from what is now Israel. The territory has been controlled by Hamas for more than a decade, during which it has fought three wars against Israel.
Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade of the strip, citing security reasons, which has caused an economic crisis and collapse in living standards there over the past decade.