On Thursday, violent clashes broke out between Hamas and Palestinian Authority employees at ATM machines in Gaza. Unlike their PA colleagues, disappointed Hamas employees had discovered that they were not paid salaries from the new Palestinian Unity Government (PUG), which was officially inaugurated on Monday, according to a Reuters report.
Hamas public employees, who have not been paid in weeks, were hoping that the unity government under the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation pact would reinstate their incomes. A spokesman for the unity government stated that a committee had yet to vet the Hamas employees before they could be added to the payroll of the new leadership.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has been paying some 70,000 public employees in the Gaza Strip since the Hamas terror organization violently overtook the coastal enclave in 2007, forcing Fatah out. Hamas has 40,000 civil servants and security personnel on its payroll. Gaza banks were subsequently closed on Thursday to prevent further fighting according to a Gaza Interior spokesman.
“You call this reconciliation? We should all eat or no one does!” shouted one employee of the former Hamas-run government, reported Reuters.
“Why is it our fault? Go ask your Hamas leaders who signed the deal – why prevent us from feeding our families?” retorted a PA civil servant. Ma’an News Agency further reported that the PA employees in Gaza had been prevented from withdrawing salaries by Hamas officers.
“Thugs and gangsters of Hamas are preventing civil servants from withdrawing their salaries. They are firing gunshots, beating citizens and smashing ATM machines,” Adnan Dmeiri, the spokesman for PA security forces told Ma’an.
According to the report, one Hamas officer told a PA employee waiting an ATM machine central Gaza that “no one can receive a salary before we receive our salaries.”
The Hamas government has faced a cash shortage since Egypt closed the Hamas border smuggling tunnels. The two rival parties are attempting to resolve the crisis, as Palestinian officials hope that the payroll of the former Hamas government will be met with international donor funds given to the PA.