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Committee: 'No explanation given' for cuts to salaries of former Palestinian prisoners

June 6, 2017 8:30 P.M. (Updated: June 7, 2017 11:28 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs reported on Tuesday that the committee was not informed of the reasoning behind the Palestinian Finance Ministry’s decision to cut the salaries of 270 former Palestinian prisoners of Israel residing in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, the de facto leading party in the besieged Gaza Strip, accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Monday of cutting the salaries of former prisoners who have been deported by Israel to the small coastal enclave.

Issa Qaraqe, head of the committee, said in a statement that the committee had been receiving phone calls and complaints from people due to the cuts. However, the committee said that they did not know what the reasons were for the cuts, adding that they “haven't received any notifications from any official entity."

"We were surprised by the decision," Qaraqe said, adding that “no explanation has been given to us."

In response to the reported development, Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Rahman Shahid said the Hamas body responsible for overseeing prisoners would review all the suspended salaries, according to Israeli news outlet the Jerusalem Post.

The Jerusalem Post added that the PA had also halted funds to five Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons.

Meanwhile, Hamas also accused the PA on Monday of cutting the salaries of 47 Hamas-affiliated lawmakers residing in the West Bank. Hamas condemned the move as a continuation of the PA’s policy against Hamas parliamentarians residing in the occupied West Bank since Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

However, Head of the salaries department of the Palestinian Finance Ministry Abd al-Jabar Salim reportedly said that the salary cuts were a result of a “technical error in the salary system,” and that the rest of the salaries were dispersed later on Monday.

The salary cuts came two months after the PA became the center of condemnation and widespread protests when the West Bank-based government cut the salaries of their employees based in the Gaza Strip by at least 30 percent.

Meanwhile, a bill has been introduced to the Israeli parliament that would deduct 1 billion shekels ($273,847,120) from tax revenues transferred from Israel to the PA over the controversial “martyrs” compensation program that provides financial allowances to Palestinians imprisoned in Israel and their families.
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