A suicide bomber killed a Hamas guard in southern Gaza early Thursday, officials said, in what sources described as a rare militant attack against the Palestinian group.
“Early this morning security forces stopped two people approaching the southern border (with Egypt),” an interior ministry spokesman in the Hamas-run territory said in a statement.
“One of them blew himself up,” it added. Later a medical source confirmed a member of Hamas’ security services had died in the attack. The source named the man as Nidal al-Jaafari, 28.
Eyewitnesses said hundreds of security forces were deployed along the border after the explosion, which occurred near Gaza’s southern border with Egypt.
Gazan security sources said they believed the attacker to be a radical. Islamists Hamas have run Gaza for a decade but have been regularly criticized by more radical groups in the strip.
It would be the first time a suicide attack has targeted Hamas forces in Gaza, the security sources said. Hamas has recently boosted its forces along the border with Egypt as it seeks to improve relations with Cairo.
Israel, the only other country Gaza borders, has maintained a decade-long blockade on the strip it says is necessary to isolate Hamas.