Hamas Employees Start Hunger Strike over Unpaid Wages

A group of former employees in the Hamas-run government in Gaza went on hunger strike Tuesday following a day of protests over unpaid salaries.

An employees’ union official said former civil servants are carrying out sit-in protests inside the Palestinian cabinet’s headquarters until their salaries are paid.

“Our sit-in is peaceful and we do not want to destroy public property, but we will stay here until our members are recognized and their salaries paid,” Khalil al-Zayyan said.

The consensus government condemned the protest and said demonstrators threatened ministers holding a meeting and damaged their cars.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the consensus government must stop discrimination between employees in Ramallah and Gaza.

Since striking a unity deal, Hamas been demanding the new government pay the salaries of the 50,000 civil servants it recruited after its takeover of Gaza in 2007, who took the jobs of 70,000 Fatah employees.

Zayyan noted that staff recruited by the former Hamas administration had not received any wages for at least seven months.

“They can no longer support their families, this is unacceptable.”

Partial payments of $1,200 each were made to 24,000 Hamas civil servants in late October. But the other 26,000, who work in security functions, have received nothing.

“We’ve had enough of the false promises. Either the government resigns or it takes all of Gaza’s responsibilities, like in the West Bank,” Zayyan said.

At the end of December, hundreds of Hamas civil servants blocked the entrance to the unity government’s headquarters during a visit to Gaza by West Bank-based ministers.

(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)

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