Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud AbbasReuters

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday blamed Hamas for the attempt on the life of the head of the PA’s Ramallah-based government, Rami Hamdallah.

An explosive device was detonated near Hamdallah’s convoy as it entered Gaza. The PA leader was visiting the region to inaugurate a desalination plant established within the framework of reconciliation with Hamas. His convoy entered Gaza via the Erez crossing and was attacked a few minutes later.

Hamdallah was not hurt and his security guards quickly took him away from the scene.

Abbas, who met in Ramallah with Hamdallah after he returned from Gaza, said that "this crime was planned and its targets and perpetrators are well-known. It is consistent with the attempts to avoid allowing the Palestinian government to operate in Gaza, undermine the reconciliation and to destroy the national enterprise by separating Gaza from the West Bank in order to establish a questionable state in the Gaza Strip."

Abbas stressed that this action would not succeed in harming the morale of the Palestinian people and leadership and placed responsibility for the attack on the "illegal" government in Gaza, meaning on Hamas.

Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction have been at odds since 2007, when Hamas took over Gaza in a bloody coup.

The two groups signed a reconciliation agreement in October, as part of which Hamas was to transfer power in Gaza by December 1. That deadline was initially put back by 10 days and then appeared to have been cancelled altogether after it reportedly hit “obstacles”.

Last month, Hamas denounced the Hamdallah government over its policy of "deceiving, creating tension and deliberately neglecting the needs of the residents of the Gaza Strip."