Palestinian Authority Slashes Gaza Salaries

RAMALLAH (AP) -

The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday said it was slashing by nearly one third the salaries of tens of thousands of government employees in the Gaza Strip who have been sitting idly since the rival Hamas terrorist group took over the coastal territory a decade ago.

The decision deepened the divide between the PA and Gaza and increased hardship in already impoverished Gaza.

“This cut has worsened our situation. I don’t know how I will get by until the end of the month. Shall I beg?” said Rizq al-Haddad, a former maintenance worker at the Health Ministry.

Mr. Al-Haddad, a father of 10, supports his family on a salary of about 2,200 shekels, or $600, a month. That income will now drop by nearly $200 a month.

The internationally backed Palestinian Authority ordered all of its roughly 50,000 workers to step down after Hamas seized power in 2007. But it has continued to pay the salaries of the former policemen, teachers and civil servants like al-Haddad.

Government spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud said a reduction in foreign aid had forced the Palestinian Authority to cut Gaza salaries by 30 percent. “Without this step, the government cannot pay the salaries of its employees,” he said.