Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
PA ministers who arrived in the Gaza Strip earlier this week returned to the West Bank after Hamas imposed severe restrictions on their movements and contacts.
Palestinian sources said Hamas had placed the ministers under house arrest in their hotel, preventing them from receiving or talking to anyone.
The 10 ministers were dispatched to the Gaza Strip as part of the Palestinian Authority government’s effort to solve the problem of thousands of public employees who have not received their salaries for several months. The ministers were accompanied by 30 senior government officials.
“Hamas has banned the ministers from leaving their hotel,” the sources said.
“They are also prohibited from meeting with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. They are literally under house arrest.”
Hamas security forces also stopped dozens of Palestinians from approaching the hotel where the ministers were staying, witnesses said.
A PA official in Ramallah said the ministers had been instructed to leave the Gaza Strip Monday night in protest against the Hamas restrictions. The official said several Palestinian figures, including representatives of various Palestinian factions, mediated between the two sides in a bid to solve the crisis.
According to the official, the ministers who arrived in Gaza were unable to go to their offices because of the restrictions.
Despite the crisis, Mufid al-Hasaineh, PA labor minister, had denied that he and his colleagues were under house arrest in their hotel. However, representatives of some Palestinian factions confirmed that Hamas had imposed severe restrictions on the ministers and the rest of the delegation members.
One of the factions, the Palestinian Popular Struggle, denounced the Hamas restrictions, saying they hindered efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.