Tawfiq Abu Naim, head of Hamas-run security forces in Gaza, speaks during a news conference, in Gaza City..
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
The head of Hamas’s security apparatus in the Gaza Strip, Tawfiq Abu Naim, was wounded in an explosion on Friday in what Hamas officials called an “assasination attempt.”
Abu Naim, who Israel freed in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap in 2011, has been in charge of Hamas’s security forces in Gaza since December 2015.
“General Tawfiq Abu Naim survived an assassination attempt Friday afternoon, after his car was blown up in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the middle of Gaza City,” Hamas Interior Ministry in Gaza Spokesman Iyad Bozm said in a statement, adding that the security chief suffered moderate wounds, but was doing well and receiving treatment at the al-Shifa Hospital in the Strip.
The Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center reported that a security source said Abu Naim had just concluded Friday prayers at a central Gazan mosque when he opened his car door and was hit by a blast.
Pictures posted on social media show that Abu Naim’s car was significantly damaged, especially in the driver seat area.
According to Bozm, Hamas’s security forces launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the explosion.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum slammed the incident, 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 plotting the incident, 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 Hamas militant, was mysteriously assassinated in March, Hamas blamed Israel.
Hayya also 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 political leader Ismail Haniyeh visits the group's security chief in hospital (Reuters)
Hamas and Fatah signed an Egyptian-brokered agreement in mid-October to advance reconciliation efforts and restore the Palestinian Authority’s governing authority in Gaza. The two parties have been at loggerheads since Hamas ousted the Fatah-dominated PA from Gaza in 2007.
Israel has expressed a number of reservations about the ongoing reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah.
Despite Hayya’s statement, a number of Palestinian and Egyptian news outlets speculated that salafist militants carried out the blast.
Over the past several months, Abu Naim has overseen a crackdown on salaifst militants 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.
Egyptian Intelligence officials also called Hamas officials to express their solidarity with Abu Naim, a report on Hamas’s official website said.
A number of Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian officials on Friday visited Abu Naim’s hospital bedside.
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 incident will not prevent Hamas from advancing reconciliation efforts.
"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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