Hamas closes Qatari-Palestinian cellphone provider over PM attack

Local reports say a second bomb that failed to detonate contained a Wataniya SIM card.

By ARAB NEWS
March 18, 2018 15:05
1 minute read.
Tn explosion targeted a convoy that was carrying Palestinian Prime Minsiter Rami Hamdallah

Palestinians inspect the site of an explosion that targeted a convoy that was carrying Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, in the northern Gaza Strip March 13, 2018. (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)

GAZA CITY (Tribune News Service): Hamas on Saturday shut the offices of a Qatari-Palestinian telecommunications company in connection with its investigation into an explosion that targeted the visiting Palestinian prime minister.

Hamas police spokesman Ayman Batniji said on Saturday that Wataniya Mobile, a subsidiary of Qatar's Ooredoo, was being closed down for "refusing to cooperate" in the inquiry.

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A roadside bomb struck a convoy carrying Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah earlier this week after he crossed into Gaza from Israel, wounding some of his bodyguards. Local reports say a second bomb that failed to detonate contained a Wataniya SIM card.

Hamdallah's West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) held Hamas responsible for the attack. Hamas rejected the accusation and blamed Israel.

Wataniya's mobile telephone service was not cut off.

There has been no claim of responsibility for Tuesday's bomb attack.

Hamas has launched an investigation and made several arrests.



The apparent assassination attempt further complicated an already faltering reconciliation agreement between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas' secular Fatah party.

Hamdallah is prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Fatah and controls the West Bank. Fatah has been in dispute with Hamas since 2006, when the movement won legislative elections in the West Bank by a landslide.

Tensions erupted in Gaza a year later, with both sides carrying out public executions of rival fighters. Hamas emerged victorious and has controlled the strip ever since.

While the two factions signed a reconciliation deal last October, ill-feeling persists. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum wrote on Facebook that Fatah had used the assassination attempt to launch a media campaign "steeped in hatred and exclusion of Hamas."

Hany El-Masary, 36, told Arab News that customers at his hairdressing salon had been feverishly discussing the attempt on Hamdallah's life.

"We seriously fear the dispute between Fatah and Hamas will continue for a long time and reconciliation will become impossible. We are lost between the two rivals," he said.

(c)2018 the Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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