President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has accused Hamas of orchestrating the explosion that targeted the convoy of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah as he entered the Gaza Strip last week.
“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 late on Monday.
Hamdallah’s convoy, which included the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence chief Majed Faraj, was attacked just after the delegation crossed through the Israeli-controlled Erez checkpoint, known to Palestinians as Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza.
Faraj and Hamdallah remained unharmed, while seven security guards were wounded in the blast.
Shortly after the attack, Hamas said it was launching an investigation to uncover who was behind the blast and deflected the PA’s comments blaming the Gaza-based group for the incident.
Speaking during Monday’s meeting, Abbas said that if the “assassination attempt” had succeeded, the development would have opened the door for a bloody civil war.
In response to Abbas’ accusations, Hamas called for elections.
“We are shocked by the tense stance that Abbas has taken. This position burns bridges and strengthens division and strikes the unity of our people,” Hamas said in a press release.
“In light of all this, Hamas calls for general elections, including presidential, parliamentary and national council elections, so that the Palestinian people can choose their leadership.”
The attack and subsequent statements by both sides mark a serious deterioration in relations between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the semi-autonomous body that governs the occupied West Bank.
Fatah, the ruling party within the PA, and Hamas, the party that governs the occupied Gaza Strip, signed a reconciliation agreement in October 2017, ending a decade of division that saw two parallel governments operating in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively.
But the deal was never fully implemented due to differences within the two political factions, which are the largest in Palestinian politics.
Analysts said the attack on Hamdallah’s convoy was intended to put a strain on reconciliation efforts.