Palestinian forces kill 2 suspects in Gaza assassination attempt

Shootout leaves two suspects and two Gazan security personnel dead.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

According to a Hamas official, the main suspect in the attack on the convoy of Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on March 13 has died along with an accomplice after being shot by Gazan security forces who had surrounded their hideout Thursday.

Two of the arresting forces were also killed in the gun battle in Nuseirat.

There are conflicting reports as to which suspect was killed outright and which died of his wounds in the hospital a short time later. According to the Turkish Daily Sabah, the Gazan Interior Ministry’s statement said that “the prime suspect, Anas Abu Khoussa, was killed in the exchange, while an accomplice, Abdul-Hadi al-Ashhab, succumbed to injuries after being hospitalized,” adding that a third accomplice had since been arrested.

Hamas had offered a $5,000 reward for information regarding the assassination attempt on Hamdallah and PA security chief Majid Faraj, who were traveling in a motorcade in the Gaza Strip when a roadside bomb went off. Though some members of their staff were injured, they were not hurt.

On Wednesday evening, the Interior Ministry identified Abu Khoussa as the main suspect and published his picture.

Hamas had already announced the arrest of a number of suspects the day after the attack. According to Palestinian sources cited by The Times of Israel, Hamas was said to believe that some detainees who admitted they were involved in the plot are affiliated with Salafia Jihadia, a terrorist group affiliated with al Qaeda.

On the other hand, a Lebanese paper, Al-Akhbar, reported that Gazan security forces had also detained a former member of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces in connection with the assassination attempt. This development would support a theory floated by certain Hamas members that the attempt was a false flag attack orchestrated by the government in Ramallah in order to pressure Hamas into relinquishing control over Gaza, as envisioned in the latest reconciliation agreement that has yet to be implemented.

After initially deciding to blame Israel for the attack, however, Abbas came out strongly against Hamas in a speech on Monday, blaming them exclusively while threatening to take financial and other measures against Hamas if the PA is not allowed to rule the Strip for the first time since being ousted by the hard-line Islamists in 2007.