Hamas Border Guard Killed in Suicide Attack on Gaza-Egypt Border

Two men were attempting to cross the border into Egypt when they were approached by a Hamas security force, prompting one of the men to detonate his explosives

File photo: Security forces patrol the Gaza-Egypt border, June, 2017.
Adel Hana / AP

A member of Hamas's border security force was killed early Thursday morning near the Gaza-Egypt border when he tried to prevent two suspects from crossing into Egypt, one of which blew himself up when the Hamas force approached.

Nidal al-Ja'afari, 28, was seriously wounded in the blast and died of his wounds at the European Hospital in Khan Yunis, according to medical sources. Several other members of Hamas security forces were wounded and evacuated to Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza, Iyad al-Bazam, said that a Hamas force tried to arrest the two suspects as they approached the border fence, when one of them blew himself up as they came close. Security forces in the Gaza Strip are investigating the incident.

The identity of the suicide bomber remains unclear and it is not known if he intended to detonate next to a Hamas force in Gaza or in another destination in Egypt.

A statement issued by Hamas's military wing following the incident referred to the attacker as "a suicide bomber with extremist views" - a possible hint that he was a member of a cell affiliated with ISIS.

"The al-Qassam Brigades will continue to act in order to secure the border and prevent these organizations from harming the principles of genuine resistance," it said.

The incident comes as Hamas attempt to improve relations with Cairo in order to ease the opening of the Rafah crossing.

Cairo has in the past accused Hamas of supporting terrorist organizations that are operating in northern Sinai. According to Egypt, armed Palestinians infiltrate the Gaza Strip to carry out terrorist attacks on its territory, while other terrorist operatives find refuge in Gaza.

In response to the claims, Hamas took steps to tighten supervision of the border and declared that it would work to prevent any harm to Egypt's national security. In addition to increasing control over the crossings, over the past two months, Hamas has begun the building of a buffer zone along the border.