GAZA CITY (AFP) – Tensions rose in the Gaza Strip as doctors struck for a second day Sunday to protest what they said was the Hamas-run government’s firing of health workers loyal to the rival Fatah movement.
Participation in the strike climbed to around 90 percent, a senior medical official at Gaza City’s main Al-Shifa hospital said, as patients lined up in hospital waiting rooms across the impoverished territory.
Emergency health workers and doctors loyal to Hamas are still working.
The medical official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said Hamas-run security forces had started rounding up doctors and health workers and taking them to hospitals by force.
The doctors went on strike Saturday to protest the sacking of some 50 doctors and other health workers by the Hamas-run health ministry, saying the decision was politically motivated.
Hamas has downplayed the doctors strike and blamed both it and a teachers strike launched last week on Palestinian president and Fatah party leader Mahmud Abbas’s government in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Palestinians have been deeply divided along factional lines since Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007 after routing security forces loyal to Abbas.
Abbas’s government, which still pays the salaries of civil servants in Gaza, including the health workers, has denied any involvement in the strike.
A similar strike was held this time last year when the Hamas-run government fired veteran surgeon Jumaa al-Saqaa, a die-hard Fatah supporter, from his post as the spokesman for Al-Shifa hospital.