Explosion Hits Palestinian Prime Minister's Convoy in Gaza

Explosion Hits Palestinian Prime Minister's Convoy in Gaza

An explosion went off Tuesday morning near a convoy carrying Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who is visiting the Gaza Strip.

An explosive device was detonated after Hamdallah and his convoy passed through the Beit Hanoun checkpoint with Israel in northern Gaza.

The blast occurred shortly after the convoy entered Gaza, but no injuries were reported, said the sources.

Neither Hamdallah nor Faraj were among those injured in the incident, and the Prime Minister continued his schedule as planned.

Hamas condemned President Mahmoud Abbas for blaming it for the blast, and Abbas' security chief, Majed Farraj, said it was "too early" to say who was responsible.

This is a developing story.

But Fatah quickly held Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers responsible for the "cowardly attack" on the convoy, further escalating tensions between the bitter rival factions.

The top Palestinian Authority officials made the rare trip from the West Bank for the inauguration of a desalination plant.

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It is Hamdallah's second visit to the Gaza Strip since the signing of an Egyptian-brokered "reconciliation" agreement between the West Bank's governing Fatah faction and Gaza's Hamas rulers late a year ago.

In November, Hamas handed over control of Gaza's border crossings to the Palestinian Authority.

The White House is due to hold a conference on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza on Tuesday, but it is unclear whether any Palestinian officials will break their boycott of U.S. officials to attend.

Hamdallah's visit comes amid a time of crisis in Gaza, where the economy is devastated.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the explosion yet, the Palestinian National Authority blamed Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza. Radical Islamists opposed to Hamas also operate within the Gaza Strip and have regularly been behind unrest there.

Hamdallah's government is recognised by the worldwide community, while Hamas is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States.

Besides the old reservoirs, the plant will receive wastewater from four towns and villages.

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