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Hamas shuts mobile phone firm in Gaza after attack on PM

By AFP - Mar 17,2018 - Last updated at Mar 17,2018

Palestinians walk past the closed gate of the headquarters of Wataniya Mobile Company office in Gaza City on Saturday (AFP photo)

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Hamas on Saturday closed the Gaza offices of a major telecommunications firm, accusing it of failing to cooperate in a probe into the apparent assassination attempt against the Palestinian premier.

Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian prime minister based in the occupied West Bank, was unharmed on Tuesday when a roadside bomb blew up near his convoy during a rare visit to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Six of his bodyguards were lightly wounded and a second bomb failed to explode, according to officials.

The Hamas-run police in Gaza said that they were closing the offices of the Palestinian company Wataniya Mobile in the Palestinian enclave, based on a decision by the state prosecutor.

A statement said the prosecutor accused the mobile service provider of “refusing to cooperate with the investigation of the Beit Hanoun bombing”, referring to the area where the bomb exploded.

It did not provide further details and there was no immediate response from the company.

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.

Hamdallah runs the government in the occupied West Bank while the “Islamist” movement Hamas heads a rival administration in Gaza.

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

After the attack, Abbas said he held Hamas responsible since it is in charge of security in Gaza, but stopped short of accusing the group of directly carrying out the bombing. 

Hamas in turn blamed Israel, which has assassinated several Palestinian leaders over the years.

Other possible suspects include smaller, more radical Islamist groups that operate in Gaza, but are opposed to Hamas.

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