Thursday, August 09, 2007

Oops- Palestinian Authority pays salaries of rival gunmen who ran them out of Gaza

Talk about check, mate! Demands for back wages have been insistent and shrill inside the West Bank and Gaza, as this photo of a bureaucrat's daughter shows. Critics have berated the leadership for buying guns instead of butter. When Palestinian rivals inadvertently paid thousands of the Hamas executive security forces by mistake, there must have been some very harsh words inside Ramallah. The BBC reports:

The Palestinian Authority has accidentally paid the salaries of 3,000 members of Hamas's main security force. According to the Fatah-run Palestinian information ministry, 3,000 members of its rival's Executive Force were paid before the mistake was noticed.

The payments were halted and most were reversed, Fatah officials say. But reports say hundreds of Hamas men were able to cash their salary cheques.
Hamas took over Gaza in mid-June, its Executive Force routing Fatah's forces.

This has left the Palestinian territories split and under the control of the rival factions - Hamas in Gaza, and Fatah in the parts of the West Bank not controlled by Israel.

To their surprise, [members of the Executive Force] got phone calls telling them to collect their salaries. They rushed to the bank, an official said.
The checks were part of a general payment approved in July after taxes were releaased by Israel.
Israelis and the international community have backed Palestinian Authority President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, while increasing the isolation of Hamas and completely cutting off Gaza and its 1.5 million residents.

Mr Abbas is refusing to engage in any kind of talks with Hamas.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by much of the international community which refuses to deal with it directly until it recognises Israel and renounces violence.

Civil servants in Gaza and the West Bank has also been receiving partial back payments for salaries that went unpaid after the Western aid embargo was imposed after Hamas came to power in 2006.

Salam Fayyad, the new prime minister in Mr Abbas's government in the West Bank, resumed paying wages last month to 133,000 Palestinian civil servants, but excluded 19,000 Hamas appointees.

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