A Palestinian policeman gestures as Hamas-hired civil servants wait to receive a payment in Gaza City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Some 24,000 Hamas civilian employees began receiving their salaries from the Palestinian Authority government on Wednesday, ending a dispute between the two sides that threatened efforts to achieve Palestinian unity.
The employees are to receive their salaries through post offices in the Gaza Strip over a period of three days.
The salaries are being paid only to civilians who were employed by the Hamas government after the Islamist movement seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007. It is not clear who will pay Hamas’s remaining 20,000 policemen and security personnel.
Each civilian employee will receive $1,200, according to Hamas sources in the Gaza Strip.
Thousands of employees who have not received salaries for the past five months queued outside post offices from the early hours of Wednesday.
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced on Tuesday that his government would pay salaries to the Hamas civilian employees. He said that Qatar agreed to cover the cost of the salaries.
Hamdallah said that the sums paid to the employees were down payments until a special committee set up to look into the case ends its work. The committee was established following the signing of the latest reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah last April.
Tensions between the two parties have been mounting in recent weeks after the PA government announced that it would not pay salaries to Palestinians employed by Hamas after 2007.
Hamas welcomed the decision to pay salaries to half of its employees. Hamas called on the government to also pay salaries to policemen and security personnel in the Gaza Strip.