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Disgruntled PA employees storm PLO office in Gaza Strip

March 9, 2016 7:45 P.M. (Updated: March 9, 2016 7:45 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Around 50 Palestinian Authority government employees stormed the PLO's Office of Refugee Affairs in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday to protest their missing salaries, the head of the office told Ma'an.

Zakariya al-Agha said after the incident the office was closed temporarily until further notice.

Al-Agha said the 50 employees smashed doors in the officer, destroyed furniture and appliances and injured one of his own employees.

The PA has failed to pay its employees’ salaries at regular intervals for some time now across all government sectors in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in Gaza.

On Feb. 25, civil servants hired by the Gaza Strip's de facto Hamas leaders implemented a one-day strike across all Gazan ministries and public institutions to protest unpaid salaries.

The employees have not been regularly paid since the formation of a unity government in 2014, although Hamas struggled to pay their salaries regularly even before that.

Schools, courts, medical and government institutions were closed in protest, with employees demanding Palestinian officials from the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, who were meeting in Doha for reconciliation discussions, find a "radical solution" for their salary crisis.

The employees’ status has been one of the major points of dispute between the two rival factions, especially after they agreed to back the creation of a unity government of politically-independent technocrats in June 2014.

Hamas then demanded that the government regulate the salaries of its 50,000 employees, who were hired when the movement seized power in the coastal enclave in 2007.

Their employees took over from 70,000 employees of the PA who were forced out of their positions but have continued to receive their salaries from Ramallah -- albeit erratically.

The unity government said the Hamas workers would only be hired "according to need," while they pledged to return the PA's former employees to their positions.

Most of the Hamas employees have gone without pay for months, by some estimates receiving only 40 percent of what is owed to them.

There has been little prospect of a solution to the dispute, with a high-profile bid by the unity government to establish itself in Gaza last summer ending in complete disarray.
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