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January 14, 2015 10:23 am

Hamas’ Grip on Gaza Falters as Workers Riot Over Stalled Wages

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Unpaid Hamas employees held a sit-in demonstration outside the offices of the Palestinian government in Gaza City, demanding their salaries be paid. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – Hundreds of Hamas employees whose wages have not been paid in more than six months staged a sit-in demonstration outside the offices of the Palestinian government in Gaza City on Tuesday, vowing to stay there until their salaries were paid.

The sit-in followed a protest rally, which quickly turned into a riot during which dozens of Hamas functionaries broke into the Palestinian government’s offices, causing significant property damage. Palestinian media reported that several government vehicles parked nearby were torched. No injuries were reported.

The unity government agreement struck between Fatah and Hamas in September prompted the dismissal of thousands of Hamas employees in Gaza, as the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority government informed Hamas it would not pay their wages. Hamas recently said the unity government had ended.

The coffers belonging to the Hamas government in Gaza are nearly empty, and the financial crisis has seen it default on the severance pay owed to those who were dismissed, as well as on the wages of thousands of other employees. Tuesday’s riot was similar to a wage protest staged by Hamas employees in June, when thousands of unpaid Gaza government functionaries stormed banks across the Strip, demanding their money.

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