Palestinian civil servants to launch strike

Palestinian civil servants, including teachers, announced Tuesday they would launch an open-ended strike September 2, the first day of the school year - another blow to the beleaguered Hamas government. More than 165,000 Palestinians are employed by the Palestinian Authority. Of those, some 80,000 will go on strike, including 40,000 teachers and 25,000 health workers, said Bassem Hadaideh, spokesman of the civil servants' union. More than 80,000 members of the security forces will not join the strike, he said. The union has ties to the Fatah movement, Hamas' main political rival. Government workers have not received their salaries since March, when the Hamas took power. Israel and other Western countries have slapped debilitating sanctions on the Hamas government, demanding the group recognize Israel and renounce violence, something it has so far refused to do. Due to the sanctions, Hamas has been unable to pay the workers in full. Since March, workers have on occasion received partial payments.