By Middle East Affairs
Two Hamas security officers and a suspect in the attempted assassination of a Palestinian prime minister are dead after a standoff Thursday in Gaza, Reuters reports.
The suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Anas Abu Khousa from the Gaza Strip. The news agency learned from an official that the suspect was wounded from the shootout with security forces that took place at his hideout in the central Gaza Strip, and he later died from the wounds. The security officers loyal to Hamas who died were identified as Zeyad Hawajrey and Hamad Abu Swerih.
Another gunman also died and Reuters said that two other gunmen were detained.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was visiting the Gaza Strip on March 13 along with Palestinian security chief Majid Faraj when their convoy was attacked by a roadside bomb. They were uninjured.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Hamas on Monday for the attack and threatened “new measures” against the armed group. This threatened the reconciliation efforts that the two groups have been working toward. The groups have rivaled for 10 years over the Gaza Strip ever since Hamas seized control of the region previously run by Abbas’ party, Fatah.
Reuters said Hamas had declared a $5,000 reward for anyone giving information about the suspect’s whereabouts. Details on the attacker’s possible motive or of his affiliation to any militant group were not released.
Abbas did not provide any evidence for this theory that Hamas was behind the assassination attempt. He said he merely did not trust Hamas to investigate the attack in an honest manner.
Related to Monday’s accusation, Haaretz reported that Palestinian Authority sources accused Hamas of lying about the identity of the attacker.
PA accused Hamas of planning the attack itself, accusing Fathi Hammad — a senior member of Hamas’ political bureau and a former interior minister in Gaza — “of being the mastermind behind the attack.”