Hamas closes Qatari-Palestinian cellphone provider over PM attack

Residents pass by close offices of a Qatari-Palestinian cellular, Wataniya Mobile, in Gaza City, on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 18 March 2018

Hamas closes Qatari-Palestinian cellphone provider over PM attack

GAZA CITY: Hamas on Saturday shut the offices of a Qatari-Palestinian telecommunications company in connection with its investigation into an explosion that targeted the visiting Palestinian prime minister.
Hamas police spokesman Ayman Batniji said on Saturday that Wataniya Mobile, a subsidiary of Qatar’s Ooredoo, was being closed down for “refusing to cooperate” in the inquiry.
A roadside bomb struck a convoy carrying Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah earlier this week after he crossed into Gaza from Israel, wounding some of his bodyguards. Local reports say a second bomb that failed to detonate contained a Wataniya SIM card.
Hamdallah’s West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) held Hamas responsible for the attack. Hamas rejected the accusation and blamed Israel.
Wataniya’s mobile telephone service was not cut off.
There has been no claim of responsibility for Tuesday’s bomb attack.
Hamas has launched an investigation and made several arrests.
The apparent assassination attempt further complicated an already faltering reconciliation agreement between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas’ secular Fatah party.
Hamdallah is prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Fatah and controls the West Bank. Fatah has been in dispute with Hamas since 2006, when the movement won legislative elections in the Occupied Territories by a landslide.
Tensions erupted in Gaza a year later, with both sides carrying out public executions of rival fighters. Hamas emerged victorious and has controlled the strip ever since.
While the two factions signed a reconciliation deal last October, ill-feeling persists. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum wrote on Facebook that Fatah had used the assassination attempt to launch a media campaign “steeped in hatred and exclusion of Hamas.”
Hany El-Masary, 36, told Arab News that customers at his hairdressing salon had been feverishly discussing the attempt on Hamdallah’s life.
“We seriously fear the dispute between Fatah and Hamas will continue for a long time and reconciliation will become impossible. We are lost between the two rivals,” he said.


Saudi Arabia, UAE form joint panel to enforce Yemen cease-fire

Updated 50 min 3 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, UAE form joint panel to enforce Yemen cease-fire

  • The panel will ensure all the ceasefire procedures are followed
  • Saudi Arabia and UAE will continue their support for the Arab coalition

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE have formed a joint panel to support the cease-fire between Yemen’s government and southern separatist forces in Shabwah and Abyan, Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Monday.

The panel will ensure the implementation of the cease-fire, Arab coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said.

The two states issued a joint statement by the foreign ministries, urging the sides to honor the cease-fire and return the civilian headquarters in Aden of the legitimate government.

The governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE confirmed they will continue their support, politically, militarily and through relief support to the Arab coalition in Yemen, the statement added.

The separatist forces of the so-called Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared last month they were breaking away from the UN-recognized legitimate government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, based in the southern city of Aden.

Their forces seized governmental structures and military camps in Aden, Shabwa and Abyan. Last week, they partially withdrew from strategic areas in Aden under pressure from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

STC still retain control of military sites in the province.