Two Hamas security forces and the main suspect in last week’s bombing against Palestinian prime minister have been killed in a raid in the besieged Gaza Strip when Hamas forces attempted to arrest two suspects.
According to the latest report, the second suspect, who was sought as an accompalice to the main suspect was also killed in Thursday raid.
Gazan Interior Ministry had earlier announced that the two were arrested, but it later issued a statement saying they had died from their wounds.
There has been a third suspect, who is reportedly under arrest.
The two killed members of Hamas security forces were named as Hammad Abu Swerah and Ziad al-Howajri, with the Interior Ministry saying they “died while carrying out their national duty in a security operation this morning.”
The casualties came after an armed clash between security forces and suspects earlier in the day in Nuseirat, south of Gaza City, a day after Hamas named Anas Abu Koussa as the lead suspect in the bombing case.
Following the bombing, dozens of new checkpoints had been erected throughout the Gaza Strip with armed security forces searching cars, an AFP correspondent said.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s convoy was targeted by a bomb explosion upon his entrance into the besieged Gaza Strip for a visit on March 13, leaving several bystanders lightly injured.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) said Hamdallah and the PA General Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj who was accompanying him, were unhurt.
Fatah, the West Bank-based political party to which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas belongs, denounced the attack and held the Gaza-based resistance movement Hamas responsible.
Hamas condemned the attack, saying it was aimed at undermining the security of the Gaza Strip and the unity of the Palestinians.
Hamdallah and his delegation had arrived in Gaza to participate in the inauguration of a wastewater treatment plant. They continued with the tour after the attack.
The visit was Hamdallah’s second since Palestinian factions signed a reconciliation deal in 2017 in Cairo as part of an Egypt-backed initiative.
The two movements of Fatah and Hamas agreed in October 2017 to “enable the national unity government to carry out its work and assume its full responsibility in running the Gaza Strip, as is the case in the West Bank, by December 1, 2017.”
The Fatah-Hamas reconciliation efforts have enraged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stressed that the regime would not accept “imaginary appeasement where the Palestinian side is reconciling at the expense of our existence.”