Gaza police face off with protesters. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90) (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Gaza police protest

The residents of Gaza, under Hamas’ authoritarian rule, are again facing popular unrest because of Hamas’ failure and disinterest to govern properly. 

Civil servants working for Hamas’ regime in the Gaza Strip went on strike on Thursday across all Gazan ministries and public institutions to protest unpaid salaries.

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports that the employees, who originally announced plans for the strike on Tuesday, have not been regularly paid since the formation of a unity government in 2014, although Hamas has been struggling to pay their salaries even before that.

Schools, courts, medical and government institutions were closed in protest, with employees demanding Palestinian officials from the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, who have been meeting in Doha for reconciliation discussions, to find a “radical solution” for their salary crisis.

A spokesperson for the employees’ union, Muhammad Siyam, said during a press conference that the general strike in Gaza includes all the institutions and health care facilities, with the exception of emergency medical functions.

He added that the general strike is a “message” to all Palestinian authorities that reconciliation will not be achieved until the salary crisis is resolved.

The employees’ status has been one of the major points of dispute between the two rival factions, especially after they agreed to back the creation of a unity government of politically-independent technocrats in June 2014.

Hamas then demanded that the government regulate the salaries of its 50,000 employees, who were hired when the movement seized power in the coastal enclave in 2007.

Their employees took over from 70,000 employees of the PA who were forced out of their positions but have continued to receive their salaries from Ramallah — albeit erratically.

The unity government said the Hamas workers would only be hired “according to need,” while they pledged to return the PA’s former employees to their positions.

Most of the Hamas employees have gone without pay for months, and by some estimates receiving only 40 percent of what is owed to them.

There have been slim prospects of a solution to the dispute, with a high-profile bid by the unity government to establish itself in Gaza last summer ending in complete disarray.

Gaza has been rocked by along line of civil disruptions, including excessive taxation by Hamas, a ban on public displays of religiosity other than Islam and ongoing power shortages and outages.

By: United with Israel Staff