Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas escaped an assassination attempt last week. Four large explosive devices were uncovered by Abbas' security officers on the road leading from the Erez crossing to Gaza, as the Palestinian president left Ramallah and was about to travel on that route.
Upon discovering the devices, Abbas' security officers instructed him to return to Ramallah. The explosive devices were detonated by sappers of the Presidential Guard.
The assassination attempt took place while the Palestinian president was on his way to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to discuss the establishment of a national unity government.
Fatah officials preferred to keep the incident a secret and not publish it, in a bid to discourage additional attempts to assassinate Abbas.
Abbas' convoy is usually comprised of at least 20 vehicles, accompanied by police and national security forces and by his personal bodyguards, who have also been trained in the United States. Abbas travels in a secured vehicle, but the explosive devices uncovered were so strong that the car would not have prevented him from getting hurt.
In spite of the assassination attempt, the Palestinian president decided not to cancel his trip to Syria
and to meet with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal. The Americans begged him not to go and expressed their anger over the trip.
Abbas' advisors also demanded that he cancel the trip and the meeting with Mashaal. However, Abbas decided to hold the meeting following heavy pressures exerted by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, Iranian officials and Palestinian organizations.
Last week, Fatah officials accused Hamas of digging several tunnels under the Salah al-Din route, a road which starts in the Erez crossing area and reaches the southern Strip. The tunnels were uncovered near the crossing, and Fatah officials announced that they were to be used for a terror attack aimed at assassinating one of the Palestinian Authority leaders, Abbas or Mohammed Dahlan.
The Fatah officials also took pictures of the tunnels which were to be used in order to place explosive devices under the road. According to estimates, the assassination attempt was planned by Hamas. Israeli defense officials have also said that Hamas plans to assassinate Abbas.