The Palestinian foreign ministry announced that the Palestinian Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Gamal Al-Gamal, has died following a blast that took place on Wednesday morning, the first day of 2014. The explosion took place as he was opening an old safe that had earlier been moved from the old embassy headquarters to the new one.
Tayseer Jaradat, the undersecretary of the ministry of foreign affairs, confirmed to Al-Quds the news of Ambassador Al-Gamal's death.
The blast occurred a few minutes after the safe was opened, seriously injuring Al-Gamal. He was then taken to the hospital, but later pronounced dead.
A statement from the Palestinian foreign ministry said that the Palestinian embassy had contacted the Czech Republic's foreign ministry, which is communicating with police agencies to determine the details of the incident and its causes.
The Palestinian side is allowing the Czech authorities to inspect the place. The Palestinian State is to send a high-level delegation to Prague tomorrow to communicate with Czech officials and to cooperate in the investigation to determine the cause of the explosion.
Prague's police spokesperson, Andrea Zolova, said that it is likely that the cause of the blast was an anti-theft system that was installed on the safe's door.
"I do not rule out an error in the use of the device. But because of the death of the victim, it is difficult to prove the case," she said, adding that the police will include a nearby building in its search, which also belongs to the Palestinian Embassy.
The news website Novinky quoted sources close to the police investigation saying that the police had found "a large quantity of weapons and explosives" in the building.
But Zolova said, "I can not confirm this information at this time."
According to Jirina Ernestova, the Czech emergency services spokesperson, "a 52-year-old woman was taken to another hospital due to smoke inhalation and stress reaction caused by the incident."
Nabil Al-Fahel, an embassy spokesperson, told Czech radio that the ambassador's entire family had been in the residence when the blast occurred.
Al-Gamal was born in Beirut in 1957 to a fighting family that was forced to move from the Palestinian city of Jaffa to the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp.
He joined the Fatah movement in 1975, and worked as an aide to the Palestinian ambassador in Bulgaria in 1979. He served as a diplomat at the Palestinian embassy in Prague in 1984, and then as a Palestinian consul to the Egyptian port city of Alexandria in 2005. He was only appointed as ambassador to the Czech Republic in October 2013.