Hamas security chief released from hospital after Gaza blast

“Today we point our fingers directly at the occupation and its spies,” deputy Hamas chief in Gaza has said in the wake of what the group's officials have called an "assassination attempt."

October 28, 2017 22:36
3 minute read.

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh visits the group's security chief in hospital (Reuters)

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh visits the group's security chief in hospital (Reuters)

Tawfiq Abu Naim, the head of Hamas’s security apparatus in the Gaza Strip, was released from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Saturday, a day after he was wounded in an explosion in what Hamas officials called an “assassination attempt.”

Abu Naim, whom Israel freed in the Gilad Schalit prisoner swap in 2011, has been in charge of security forces in the Strip since December 2015.

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“General Tawfiq Abu Naim left Shifa Hospital... and is in good health. Praise God,” Hamas Health Ministry spokesman in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra wrote on his Twitter account.

On Friday, Hamas Interior Ministry in Gaza spokesman Iyad Bozm said Abu Naim “survived an assassination attempt... after his car was blown up in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the middle of Gaza City,” adding that the security chief had suffered moderate wounds.

The Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center reported that a security source said Abu Naim had just concluded Friday prayers at a central Gaza mosque when he opened his car door and was hit by a blast.

Pictures posted on social media show the car with significant damage, especially in the driver seat area.

Hamas’s security forces opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the explosion, Bozm said.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the explosion, describing it as “an act of cowardice that would only be perpetrated by the enemies of the Palestinian people and the homeland.”

While Barhoum did not specifically accuse anyone of being behind the blast, deputy Hamas chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya blamed Israel.

“Today we point our fingers directly at the occupation and its spies,” Hayya said at a press conference. “The occupation is the first beneficiary of such an incident.” When Mazen Fukaha, a senior leader of Izzadin Kassam, Hamas’s armed wing, was assassinated under mysterious circumstances in March, Hamas blamed Israel.

Hayya said that only “someone who wants to undermine and ruin the reconciliation climate” in the Palestinian territories would attempt to harm Abu Naim, further suggesting Israel was behind the explosion.

Hamas and Fatah signed an Egyptian-brokered agreement in Cairo on October 12, to advance reconciliation efforts and restore the Palestinian Authority’s governing authority in Gaza. Hamas ousted the Fatah-dominated PA from the Strip in 2007.

Israel has expressed a number of reservations about the reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah.

Despite Hayya’s statement, several Palestinian and Egyptian news outlets speculated that Salafists were responsible for Friday’s explosion.

Over the past several months, Abu Naim has overseen a crackdown on armed Salafists in Gaza and worked to prevent them from crossing between the Strip and Sinai.

Fatah Central Committee member Ahmad Helles condemned the blast, calling it a “cowardly act” aimed at obstructing reconciliation efforts, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

Egyptian intelligence officials called Hamas officials to express solidarity with Abu Naim, a report on Hamas’s official website said.

Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh visits Hamas's security chief in the Gaza Strip, Tawfeeq Abu Naeem, as he lies on a bed at a hospital in Gaza City October 27, 2017. (Reuters)

A number of Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian officials on Friday visited Abu Naim in the hospital.

Pictures released on Hamas’s Twitter account show Abu Naim smiling, as Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh squeezes his hand and pats his forehead.

Haniyeh said the blast will not prevent Hamas from advancing reconciliation with Fatah.

“Those who think that this crime can limit our determination to achieve national reconciliation are wrong,” Haniyeh said in statement carried on Hamas’s official website.

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