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Teachers despair over unpaid salaries

Jan. 7, 2013 11:39 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 9, 2013 10:39 A.M.)
JENIN (Ma’an) -- Civil servants in the West Bank are struggling to cover transportation costs, as the delays in their salary payments stretches on amid the Palestinian Authority's financial crisis.

Public sector staff last received partial payments of their November salaries in December. They are striking this week and the next to press for an end to the crisis.

Since early December, Israel has withheld around $100 million in monthly tax revenue it collects on behalf of the PA as punishment for the UN's acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state.

Meanwhile, the Arab League states have not delivered the pledged "safety net" to cover the lost revenues, compounding a general drop off in donor funds during 2012.

Teachers in the northern West Bank city of Jenin described emotionally to Ma'an the struggles the salary delays had caused them.

Teacher Issam Nasar told Ma'an he is worried about the health of his children, as a partial payment for November fell far short of their needs.

"In fact, I am embarrassed amongst my children, who keep asking me for things which I can’t buy for them. My younger son was sick last week and I couldn't take him to the doctor, I treated him just with herbs," he said.

"I borrowed money from all friends and relatives till my debts reached 7,000 shekels so far.

"I don’t have a social life, I don’t leave my house, I only go to school and come back to bed to think how I am going to provide my family with food."

Jamal Mahmoud, who also teaches in Jenin, told Ma'an: "I support three university students and the situation is difficult; I can’t afford fees for transportation, and have to borrow money for my children to pay for their transportation."

Another teacher began to cry when asked about his financial situation. "I am the only earner in the family, my mother is still alive and I have a son who suffers a chronic disease … my son and mother both need medicine which costs more than 700 shekels a month, so I am unable to provide them with their medical treatment."

"We have to eat very simply. Stores are asking me to repay nearly 1,000 shekels in debts. What did you think my financial situation will be like?"
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