Hamas Accuses Dahlan of Attempted Murder

Haniya sped from the scene in a pickup truck, with bodyguards surrounding him.

Hamas Accuses Dahlan of Attempted Murder
The ruling Palestinian movement Hamas movement Friday, December 15, accused Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan of "attempted murder" after an attack on Prime Minister Ismail Haniya's convoy, ratcheting up tensions between the rival factions in the troubled territory.

"It is an assassination attempt carried out by rebels led by Mohammad Dahlan," Hamas spokesman Mushir Al-Masri told a press conference.

"Mohammad Dahlan bears personal responsibility for this assassination attempt," he added.

One of Haniya's bodyguards was killed and five people wounded, including his son, in an attack late Thursday, December 14, on the premier's convoy after chaos erupted at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

The clashes erupted after Israel denied entry to Haniya and accused him of attempting to smuggle "tens of millions of dollars" into the Gaza Strip.

Hamas member Fawzi Barhum said the shots were "a planned attempt by Force 17 (the presidential guard) to assassinate brother Ismail Haniya."

The closure of the Rafah crossing had prompted dozens of Hamas gunmen to storm the terminal, firing guns, smashing windows and furniture and sending travelers and European Union observers scrambling for cover. Thirteen Palestinians were wounded in the rampage.

"We want Mahmoud Abbas to order that those responsible be found," he added.

Abbas, at loggerheads with Hamas since it took power after a January election win, said he "regretted" the attack, the Palestinian WAFA news agency reported.

The attack follows a wave of cross-faction killings in the Gaza Strip ahead of a speech by Abbas Saturday, December 16, in which Abbas is expected to call early elections despite protests from Hamas.


Haniya (C) stranded at Rafah crossing before an Egyptian mediation to get the premier into the Gaza Strip. (Reuters)

Haniya had cut short his first foreign trip to deal with mounting infighting between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah party after a series of killings, including the drive-by killing of the three young sons of a prominent Palestinian intelligence chief on Monday.

He was finally allowed to cross after a compromise was hammered out between Israel and Egypt, in which the 35 million dollars Haniya was reportedly carrying would be deposited in a Cairo bank to be transferred to a Palestinian Authority account.

The Palestinians are desperately short of funds because of an aid freeze by the European Union and the United States after Hamas had taken over.

During his tour, Haniya secured promises from Iran to provide 250 million dollars of aid to the cash-strapped Palestinian government and from Qatar to pay the salaries of health and education ministry staff. Sudan also pledged 10 million dollars in emergency aid.

In his speech Saturday, Abbas is expected to lay out his plans for resolving the months-long standoff with Hamas that has paralyzed Palestinian decision-making.

Abbas aides say the president is likely to call for early presidential and parliamentary elections following the collapse of talks with Hamas over forming a unity government.

Hamas has warned that such a move would amount to a coup. The current Palestinian parliament is due to remain in place until 2010.

Abbas and Hamas have tried for months to form a coalition, but their talks collapsed over Hamas's refusal to bend to Western conditions and disagreement over key ministerial posts.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16