(photo credit: REUTERS)
An unidentified individual blew himself up near the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Thursday morning after Hamas security forces arrested him on the Gazan side, leaving one member of the security forces dead and many others wounded, Hamas-backed Interior Ministry in Gaza spokesman Iyad Bazm and Hamas media reports said early Thursday morning.
Bazm said the assailant died and another individual accompanying him was wounded. He added that all of the wounded were transferred to the Abu Yousif Najjar hospital in Rafah.
The Ezzeldin Kassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, said the dead member of the security forces belongs to their ranks. They identified him as 28-year-old Nidal al-Jaafari.
Bazm also noted that Hamas security forces are carrying out an investigation into the incident.
In a statement, the Kassam Brigades described the suicide bomber and the other individual accompanying him as parties to “twisted thinking which is alien to the original resistance and struggle idea.”
A number of Palestinian news sites reported that the attacker belonged to the Islamic State, but provided no definitive evidence substantiating that claim.
Hamas has long been accused of providing refuge and other aid to Islamic State militants in the Sinai Peninsula. However, following talks with Egyptian intelligence officials in June, Hamas tightened security along the Gaza-Egypt border and started construction of security buffer zone there.
The Kassam Brigades also said they would not “hesitate to defend our people and land and protect the resistance project from all threats.”
One of Hamas’s spokesmen slammed the the suicide bomber and praised the Hamas security forces for their work.
“We firmly condemn this reprehensible crime and offer high praise to the Interior Ministry in Gaza and security forces for their role in protecting the borders and general system,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.
A Gaza source said that Thursday’s bombing marked the first time a Palestinian carried out a suicide bombing against Hamas security forces.
The Palestinian daily al-Quds reported that after the bombing, Hamas security forces deployed in large numbers along the Gaza-Egypt border. Pictures on social media show Hamas security forces set up a number of checkpoints in the Rafah area.
Later on Thursday, a funeral was held for Jaafari in Rafah, where members of the Kassam Brigades carried him to his grave. Senior Hamas officials including Politburo Chief Ismail Haniyeh, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine officials attended the funeral.