PA accused of withholding payment from Gaza staff

PA accused of withholding payment from Gaza staff
The Palestinian Authority has reportedly not paid salaries to its staff members in Gaza, while their counterparts in the West Bank have received their pay.
2 min read
10 April, 2018
Recent protests in Gaza have brought attention back to the Hamas-run territory [NurPhoto]

The Palestinian Authority has paid salaries to its West Bank employees this month but not those in Gaza, officials said on Monday, amid an ongoing split with the strip's Islamist rulers Hamas.

It was not immediately clear why the salaries had not been paid and if the delay was temporary, but it comes as relations between the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and Hamas are at rock bottom.

Employees in Gaza waited in vain for salaries at banks, an AFP photographer said.

"Salaries were paid into banks in the West Bank and not in Gaza," Arif Abu Jarad, head of the union representing PA employees in the Gaza Strip, told AFP.

"There is a state of anger among staff in the strip," he added, saying they were having emergency meetings against this "terrible crime".

A source in the finance ministry in Ramallah, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the salaries had been paid in the West Bank but not Gaza.

He refused to give more details on the decision.

The PA has kept paying its tens of thousands of employees in Gaza despite most not going to work since Hamas seized control of the territory from the PA in a 2007 near civil war.

Analysts say cutting the salaries would seek to increase discontent in the Gaza Strip, putting more pressure on Hamas.

Multiple reconciliation attempts between the two factions have failed, most recently an Egyptian-brokered deal signed in October.

Hugh Lovatt, Israel and Palestine fellow with the European Council of Foreign Relations think-tank, said the halt to payments, if confirmed, would represent Abbas "doubling down" on threats.

"This comes against the backdrop of increasing attempts by Abbas to impose sanctions on Hamas and Gazans," he told AFP.

"I see this as one more step."