Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday forced 6,145 of its civil employees in the Gaza Strip into early retirement, as a part of measures to pressure Hamas to concede control over the territory, a PA government spokesman said.
Over the past two months, the PA has slashed the salaries of its employees in Gaza, reduced electricity to the area, and cut medical budgets.
PA spokesman Tariq Rishmawi said the moves are aimed at restoring the unity of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
“We will not allow for Hamas to perpetuate the split,” Rishmawi said in a phone interview. “We will take all the necessary to measures to end it.” Rishmawi called on Hamas to enable the PA government to operate fully in Gaza.
Hamas ousted the PA from Gaza in 2007 in a coup d’etat. The Islamist group has since signed multiple agreements with Fatah to unite the West Bank and Gaza under one PA government, but heavily restricts the PA from operating in the Strip.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum slammed the decision to send the PA employees into early retirement.
“Abbas’s moves at the expense of Gaza and the PA employees in Gaza... are immoral, inhumane and have nothing to do with ending the division,” Barhoum said. “Rather they strengthen and reinforce the Palestinian division.”
Barhoum added that Abbas should immediately rescind all the decisions he has taken to pressure Hamas to give up control of Gaza.
Palestinians marked the 10th anniversary of the split between the West Bank and Gaza last month.