Palestinian PM Hamdallah survives Gaza bomb attack

Palestinians reject US invitation to discuss Gaza humanitarian crisis

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories - A bomb blast targeted Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah's convoy during a rare visit to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, leaving him unhurt, but provoking outrage over what officials called an assassination attempt.

Six security guards had been wounded, Hamdallah said shortly after the attack.

"The Palestinian Presidency holds Hamas responsible for the cowardly targeting of the Prime Minister's convoy in Gaza", the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is leading the White House effort to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace, presided for several hours over discussions about short-term projects that could improve the situation in Hamas-run Gaza, which is on the brink of economic disaster.

"I am so glad that all of you have put tensions aside to try to help - we should all be proud of that and build on that", President Donald Trump's peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said in his opening remarks, according to text released by the White House.

The explosion went off shortly after the convoy entered Gaza through the Erez crossing with Israel. When the smoke cleared, the explosion was followed by heavy gunfire, apparently from police securing the convoy, " said a witness, who declined to be identified because of security concerns. But the Palestinians have essentially cut off ties to the White House, furious over Trump's move past year to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. The prime minister entered Gaza along with Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj at around 10 a.m. local time.

Fatah and Hamas have been in a stand-off since Hamas won control over Gaza in 2007.

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Hamas immediately hit back at Abbas, saying that his claims played into the hands of Israel. "Gazans have been brought to the brink of collapse by Hamas, PIJ & other extremist groups", he wrote.

They said their doubts were based on the fact that the explosive device had been directed only against the last two vehicles in the convoy, which carried Hamdallah's bodyguards.

When Hamdallah, Faraj and other PA officials have traveled to Gaza, members of the Hamas-run security forces were seen in pictures and videos standing in and around all the places they have visited.

In his speech while inaugurating a sanitary water recycling plant in the strip, he added that he will return to the strip once again despite the blast that targeted his motorcade earlier in the day.

Hamdallah, seemingly undaunted by the attack, said he remained determined to heal the Fatah-Hamas rift in Gaza.

Mladenov echoed condemnation levelled at Hamas, who are the ruing party in the Gaza Strip, by the Palestinian Presidential spokesman.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel and Gaza has suffered from a devastating Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

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