An official in Gaza has accused a senior intelligence officer in the Palestinian Authority of involvement in the bomb blast that targeted Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s convoy last month.
Iyad al-Bozom, spokesman of Gaza’s interior ministry, made the allegations at a press conference on Saturday in Gaza.
Hamdallah’s convoy – which included the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence chief Majed Faraj – was attacked just after a delegation crossed through the Israeli-controlled Erez checkpoint, known to Palestinians as Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza on March 13.
Hamdallah and Faraj were unharmed, while seven security guards were wounded in the blast.
Bozom told Al Jazeera while he does not explicitly accuse the Palestinian General Intelligence Service as an institution of involvement, he said elements within the department were behind blast.
“Our investigations were clear and complete. We are not accusing the Palestinian Intelligence, but in the course of our investigation we discovered that Brigadier-General Baha Balousha of the intelligence department orchestrated the attack,” said Bozom.
Hamas denies role in blast targeting Palestinian PM
Balousha works as an adviser to Faraj, he noted.
Bozom said the interior ministry’s investigation was thorough and extensive and resulted in the arrest of the main perpetrators behind the attack.
He said the suspects confessed to being recruited by high-ranking Palestinian intelligence officers to plant explosives on the side of the road in an attempt to kill Hamdallah.
Osama al-Qawasmi – a spokesman for Fatah, the main Palestinian faction in Ramallah where the Palestinian Authority (PA) operates – denied the allegations in a statement and accused Bozom of “misleading theatrics”.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Hamas of orchestrating the explosion that targeted Hamdallah’s convoy.
“We do not want them to investigate, we do not want information from them, we do not want anything from them because we know exactly that they – the Hamas movement – were the ones who committed this incident,” Abbas said at a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah after the attack.
Bozom also said the suspects said they received instructions from their handlers through a “jihadist media forum” operated by “Palestinian intelligence operatives”.
At the press conference, the interior ministry showed video confessions allegedly of the suspects involved in the assassination attempt.
Bozom said the detainees also confessed to planning attacks and assassinations not only in Gaza but also in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
He said the same group was also behind the attempt on the life of the head of police in Gaza, General Tawfiq Abu Naeem, last October.
Other targets on the suspects’ hit list included an Egyptian delegation that often crosses into Gaza to facilitate Palestinian reconciliation efforts, international officials, and Hamas leaders, according to local media reports.