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Organization of Islamic Cooperation office in Gaza closes after 'political pressure' by PA

May 11, 2017 6:25 P.M. (Updated: May 16, 2017 4:56 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- The Gaza office of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been forced to close after operating for nine years in the besieged enclave after the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA) exerted “political pressure” on the office and transferred its jurisdiction to Ramallah in the PA-control occupied West Bank, according to a statement released by the head of the office on Thursday.

Muhammad Hasna said that the office was closed following “political pressure” by the PA, adding that the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been attempting to close the office in Gaza for several years.

"The closure of the office is part of a series of campaigns conducted by the PA against the Gaza Strip,” Hasna said, and noted that the PA-affiliated Palestinian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia allegedly demanded that the Islamic Solidarity Fund cease sending funds for projects in the besieged enclave.

The Gaza office was opened following the 2008-2009 Israeli offensive on the small territory, which Israelis termed “Operation Cast Lead,” which led to the deaths of more than 1,400 Palestinians, 80 percent of whom were civilians.

Hasna said that the office was the only source of accessible humanitarian services in Gaza, on which thousands of families in the territory were dependent.

Fatah and Hamas have been political rivals following Hamas’ success in general elections in Gaza in 2006, which erupted into a violent conflict between the two groups. After Hamas took control of the territory, Israel imposed a full siege on the Palestinian territory, which has been ongoing for a decade.

The cutting of PA salaries to their Gaza-based civil employees coupled with a devastating electricity crisis that Hamas has blamed on the PA for refusing to alleviate taxes levied on electricity from the West Bank, has severely exacerbated the long-running conflict.

Hamas officials and some Gaza residents have accused the PA of exerting political pressures on Gaza in order to force Hamas to release the territory to PA control.

However, rights groups have pointed out that such measures imposed for political reasons has served to further strain an already dire situation for Gaza’s two million residents. The destruction from three Israeli offensives over the past eight years, including damage to the enclave’s water, sanitation, energy, and medical facilities, coupled with slow reconstruction due to the blockade led the UN in 2015 to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.
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