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Rights group 'deeply concerned' over closure of Gaza banks

June 10, 2014 4:44 P.M. (Updated: June 12, 2014 9:39 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Center for Human rights said Tuesday that it is "deeply concerned" over the continued closure of banks in the Gaza Strip, urging all parties to find a solution.

Banks have been closed for six days by Gaza security forces in protest against the non-payment of salaries to employees of the former Hamas-run government by the new unity government.

Employees of the previous government see it as Ramallah's responsibility to pay their salaries, a point of contention yet to be worked out by the new government.

Several shop-owners in Gaza said Tuesday that security forces had even confiscated MasterCard machines from shops and stores to prevent customers from using them.

"The crisis of salaries is a completely political crisis and that the solution to this crisis must be one of the key priorities of the Palestinian President, Hamas and Fatah movements as well as the new Palestinian government," PCHR said.

"All efforts must be devoted to ensure the payment of the salaries to all the public employees on the basis of recognizing the right of each government employee to receive his/her salary regularly and systematically, without prejudice or discrimination based on political affiliations or other grounds," the group added.

The suspension of banking activities in the Gaza Strip could lead to further deterioration in conditions for thousands of financially insecure families who rely on payments and threatens the future of Palestinian reconciliation, PCHR said.

Palestinian police and security services must promote the principle of the rule of law, ensure public order and protect civilians and private property, which includes opening banks immediately and enabling citizens to have safe access into them.

PCHR condemned all acts of violence which have accompanied the crisis, calling for both sides to respect human rights.

"The continued closure of the banks constitutes a dangerous precedent that must be ended. Moreover, banks must not be involved in the problems resulting from the reconciliation issue or the division remnants."

"The reconciliation has been established on the basis of consensus and both parties should provide compromises for the public interest. This is the spirit that must prevail and which we expect from both parties."
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