Jordanian Ambassador?s Assistant Killed in Gaza Violence

The administrative assistant to the Jordanian Ambassador in Gaza was killed on Monday and 11 others wounded in some of the heaviest fighting between Fatah and Hamas factions in the past two months.

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Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 21:57

A shootout at the Palestinian Legislative Council building in Gaza left Khaled Radaida dead in the violent battle between the two groups. Radaida died after three bullets hit the windshield of his car, which was marked with Jordanian diplomatic license plates.

Jordanian Ambassador Yehiya Qarallah was not in the car at the time. A police escort subsequently brought Qarallah to the morgue at Shifa Hospital, where he identified his assistant. He reportedly left the building in tears.

Although Radaida held a Jordanian diplomatic passport, he did not have full diplomatic status. Radaida was a resident of Gaza and was hired there.

Jordan threatened to recall its ambassador and close its embassy in Gaza City over the affair. Senior government officials in Jordan cited growing concerns about the escalating clashes between Fatah and Hamas and called upon both factions to put an end to the daily battles.

A government statement by Jordan immediately demanded that “the Palestinian Authority launch an immediate inquiry into the incident and to provide details as soon as possible,” according to the official Petra news agency. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar both called Qarallah to offer their condolences and promises to investigate. PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas officials called as well.

A Jordanian official said it was not clear whether the killing was intentional or Radaida was caught in the crossfire between Fatah and Hamas. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the investigation into the incident. Viewers, however, said Palestine TV showed the shooting at the Jordanian diplomat’s car.

Defense Minister (Labor) Amir Peretz instructed the IDF’s coordinator of activities in the PA-controlled territories to assist the PA in transferring the body to Jordan. Peretz ordered the Allenby Crossing to Jordan to remain open later to accommodate the Jordanian request that the body be expeditiously transferred to Amman.

The two factions gave conflicting reports about what sparked Monday’s battles and each blamed the other for the shooting. A second attempted assassination within two days by Hamas against a Fatah-affiliated Gaza security chief has ratcheted up the pressure still more.

Eight people have been killed in the internal fighting in the streets of Gaza so far this month, including a gunman shot to death overnight on Sunday, with dozens more injured.

Tensions between Jordan and Hamas have been high since Hamas was reprimanded by Jordan after several of its operatives were charged with smuggling arms into Jordan. Two of the defendants appeared recently on Jordan TV to say they had been recruited for the operation by Hamas leaders from Damascus.