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Charlie Hoyle

Abbas dismisses thousands of Gaza employees in bid to pressure Hamas

The PA has ramped up punitive measures against Hamas in recent months. [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 July, 2017

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed more than 6,000 employees in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in the latest punitive measure designed to pressure Hamas to cede control.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed more than 6,000 employees in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in the latest punitive measure designed to pressure Hamas to cede control of the territory.

PA government spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud told Wafa news agency that 6,145 employees working in health, education, and other public sectors were being sent into early retirement.

"The government's decision, previous ones and future ones related to the Gaza Strip are temporary and are linked to Hamas, the de facto authority in Gaza, taking steps to end the split between the West Bank and Gaza," he said.

The measure could be reversed if "Hamas goes back on steps that lead for further split in the Palestinian ranks," he added, referring to the movement handing power back to Abbas's Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.

The PA has around 50,000 employees in Gaza who still receive a salary despite not having worked since 2007, when Hamas ousted Fatah from the territory and split the Palestinian territories into two separate entities.

The PA continues to pay Gaza employees to ensure their loyalty, but also ends up injecting money into the Hamas-run economy.

Since April, the PA has carried out a series of punitive measures aimed to force Hamas to cede control of the besieged coastal enclave, including slashing civil servants' salaries, cutting electricity to residents, and limiting medical services and funds.

Hamas responded angrily to the latest measure, calling it "immoral, inhuman and having nothing to do with the division," The Times of Israel reported.

The group's spokesperson, Hazem Qasem, said the PA was punishing Hamas following a recent deal between Egypt and Abbas arch-rival Mohammed Dahlan, which allowed fuel to enter the besieged territory.

Dahlan, an arch rival of Abbas currently exiled in the United Arab Emirates, was reportedly key in facilitating the agreement between Egypt and Hamas to alleviate the electricity crisis.

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