Hamas claimed the “stickup men” worked for Israeli intelligence, while Palestinian security forces said the two were ordinary thieves.
Rather than give up his explosives, the bomber detonated them, killing himself and the two robbers near the border fence between Gaza and Israel.
Palestinian security officials said the the gunmen were criminals who were involved in a car theft ring that brought stolen vehicles from Israel to Gaza.
Hamas said the bomber was on his way to try to infiltrate into Israel, accompanied by another Hamas member and a guide, when they were stopped by the armed men.
The robbers forced the bomber to lie on the ground and tried to steal the bomb, but the militant detonated it, killing all three. The other Hamas man and the guide escaped.
There have been cases of rival groups stealing each other’s explosives, but no group claimed the two gunmen, and their families did not go to the hospital to take the bodies, indicating that the two were not militants, who are revered in Palestinian society.
A Hamas official said that whatever their intention, the two should be considered agents of Israel.
“Anyone who tries to stop a fighter from doing his work is a collaborator,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity….