GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – More than 10,000 Palestinian civil servants loyal to militant group Hamas have began receiving their salaries, a union official said on Saturday.
Alla Al-Batta, head of the Hamas-run Palestinian public employees union, said on local news radio that the government began paying the salaries of around 10,000 civil servants, including thousands of men who work for the Executive Force, a Hamas-loyal militia which polices the Gaza Strip.
Thousands of Palestinian civil servants were denied their July salaries, because the Fatah-led government in the West Bank, which enjoys international recognition and is flush with money, refused to pay employees hired by former Hamas governments, Executive Force gunmen and known Hamas loyalists.
The move provoked an outcry, and divided civil servants between Hamas and Fatah loyalists. The opposing governments have also set different weekends and spar with public servants who do not follow their appointed days off.
The militant Muslim group seized control of the Gaza Strip in mid-June after furious battles against rival group Fatah, which promptly established its own government in the West Bank.
There are more than 160,000 Palestinians working in bloated government offices. Their salaries provide for around a third of all Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, making the issue of enormous sensitivity in the impoverished Palestinian territories.