Former Hamas minister injured in West Bank ‘assassination attempt’

The incident is seen in the context of the ongoing dispute between Hamas and PA President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction. 

 Hamas-affiliated former Palestinian deputy prime minister Nasser al-Din al-Shaer (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Hamas-affiliated former Palestinian deputy prime minister Nasser al-Din al-Shaer
(photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Nasser al-Shaer, a prominent Hamas-affiliated Palestinian academic who previously served as a minister in the Palestinian Authority government, was shot by unidentified gunmen on Friday afternoon.

The shooting took place in the village of Kufr Kalil near Nablus, where Shaer, 61, was attending the wedding of a Palestinian man who had been released from Israeli prison after serving time for security-related offenses.

Shaer, who was hit by six bullets in his legs, was rushed to Rafidia Surgical Hospital in Nablus, where doctors said that he was in moderate condition.

The shooting, which has been described by Hamas and other Palestinian groups as an “assassination attempt,” came a month after he was physically assaulted during clashes between students aligned with Hamas and the ruling Fatah faction headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas at An-Najah University in Nablus.

Shaer teaches sharia (Islam’s legal system) at the university.

Palestinians said over the weekend that Friday’s incident was in the context of the Hamas-Fatah rivalry, which reached its peak in 2007 when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip.

Journalist Nawaf al-Amer, who accompanied Shaer during the visit to the village, said that they were initially intercepted by two gunmen as they were on their way out.

“At first, it seemed like an attempt to kidnap the doctor, so I locked the door of the car,” recounted Amer. “Then they shot at Dr. Nasser and hit him in the leg. As we drove away, they intercepted the car again and fired more bullets.”

No group claimed responsibility for the shooting attack, which was strongly condemned by Palestinians from across the political spectrum, including the PA and Fatah.

Abbas phoned Shaer and condemned the shooting, saying he “will not allow such unacceptable actions.”

The president issued orders to the Palestinian security services to immediately investigate the incident, arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Fatah also condemned the attack on Shaer, saying it was not part of the Palestinians’ traditions and morals.

In 2006, Shaer was appointed deputy prime minister and minister of education in the government that was formed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

In 2007 and 2009, he was arrested by the IDF and held in administrative detention, the first time for four months and the second for half a year.  

Hamas-Fatah peacemaker

Shaer had played a significant role in efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah dispute. In the past decade, he and other senior Hamas figures held talks with Fatah leaders in the West Bank as part of the attempts to reach “national reconciliation.”

Hamas condemned the “heinous and treacherous assassination attempt” and described Shaer as an academic and national figure.

In a statement, Hamas said that the shooting “sounded the alarm that there are those who are trying to strike the Palestinian social fabric, serving the Zionist occupation and foreign agendas.”

Haniyeh phoned Shaer and expressed full solidarity with him, according to a statement released by the Gaza-based terror group.

It said that Haniyeh condemned the “treacherous crime, which serves only the occupation and its agents.”

Haniyeh called on the PA to quickly lay its hands on the perpetrators, adding that the incident “would not silence free voices.”