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Slamming the PA, Hamas official warns that Gaza could implode 'at any moment'

April 30, 2017 8:10 P.M. (Updated: May 1, 2017 12:12 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- As institutional, political, and infrastructural crises continue to plague the Gaza Strip, high-level Hamas official Ahmad Yousif warned on Saturday that the situation in the besieged Palestinian enclave could implode at any moment, lashing out at the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its role in the deteriorating context.

In an interview with Ma’an, Yousif accused the PA, the Fatah-led government in the occupied West Bank, of putting into action a “big plan” aiming to “eliminate the Palestinian cause.”

Yousif cautioned that the situation in the Gaza Strip could ignite at any moment, without elaborating.

He argued that the PA’s “dereliction” and absence in the Gaza Strip had made it necessary for the Hamas movement to expand an administrative committee to coordinate and supervise the work of ministries in Gaza, saying that the committee did not seek to replace the PA, but to palliate its failings amid the PA’s neglect of the coastal enclave.

Earlier this month, the PA implemented a slash in the salaries of Gaza-based PA employees, as well as cut aid disbursement to impoverished Gazans via the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The move sparked protests in the enclave as employees accused the PA of targeting Gaza-based employees, highlighting that cuts were not made to civil servants in the occupied West Bank.

Since Hamas’ rise to power in Gaza in 2007, the PA has continued paying its Gaza employees who have refused to work with the Hamas-led authorities in protest. These employees had continued to receive regular payments from the PA until March.

However, some 50,000 employees who decided to continue to work under Hamas have subsequently faced irregular and partial salaries from the PA, and at times no payments at all.

Yousif pushed back against a statement by the Fatah party accusing the Hamas movement of not having responded to a proposal by PA President Mahmoud Abbas regarding political reconciliation between the two parties after some 10 years of tensions, adding that Fatah meanwhile hadn’t answered its inquiries regarding the fate of tens of thousands of Gaza civil servants’ salaries.

The Hamas official said nonetheless that Hamas was willing to work towards reconciliation with Fatah in accordance with Qatari and Egyptian initiatives, adding that the Palestinian movement’s border security coordination with Egypt was improving.

Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fatah since they came into violent conflict in 2007, shortly after Hamas’ 2006 victory in general elections held in the Gaza Strip.

However, Palestinian leadership has repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliations, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures.

Most recently, Gaza electricity officials have blamed power shortages on PA fuel taxes, while the PA notified authorities on Thursday that it would stop paying for electricity provided by Israel to the Gaza Strip.

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov released a statement earlier this month in which he expressed his “deep concerns” over the “growing tensions” in Gaza.

The enclave's severe electricity shortages over the years have exacerbated the already dire living conditions in the small Palestinian territory.

The UN has warned that the Gaza Strip would become uninhabitable for residents by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and nearly a decade of Israel's blockade.
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