The head of Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip, General Tawfiq Abu Naim, sustained moderate wounds from an explosion next to his car in central Gaza on Friday.
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While at this point it remains unclear who was behind the attempted assassination, reports in Gaza say that members of the Salafi jihadist movement, which is associated with Islamic State, are responsible for the attack.
According to local reports, the explosion took place as Abu Naim exited a mosque located in the southern suburbs of Gaza City at the end of Friday prayers. Palestinian reports say a number of other individuals were also injured in the attack. At this point, however, there is no information regarding their medical status.
The Internal Ministry's spokesperson in Gaza, Eiad Al-Zam, said in an official notice that security forces have opened an investigation in order to understand the reasons for the assassination attempt, and to identify its perpetrators. "General Tawfiq Abu Naim survived an assassination attempt in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, where he was moderately wounded, and was evacuated for medical attention at Shifa Hospital," said the notice.
Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said that "the assassination attempt is a lowly act, with Palestine's enemies behind it." He added, "The assassination is an attempted attack on the strip's security and stability as well as the Palestinian reconciliation. Security forces must act quickly in order to bring the perpetrators to justice."
A Hamas activist told Haaretz that at this time, there is not enough evidence in order to blame one actor or another for the attack. He noted, however, that according to initial indications, it seems that parties associated with the Islamic State are responsible. Over the past months, Hamas has been dealing with these groups harshly.
However, the Popular Resistance Committee, one of the military organizations active in Gaza, blamed Israel. The organization's statement said that, "it's clear that Israel's hands are involved in the assassination attempt. We must hit back against their agents and its collaborators without restraints."
Abu Naim is considered one of the strongest individuals in Gaza since stepping into his role as head of the security forces. He is responsible for creating the buffer zone between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, and for Gaza's internal security infrastructure. Abu Naim played an active role in the reconciliation agreement talks with Fatah, and is to promote the program for integrating Hamas' security forces into those of the Palestinian Authority, in accordance with the reconciliation agreement between the two.