Palestinian Authority employees in the besieged Gaza Strip reacted with anger yesterday when they discovered that their March salaries had been slashed by at least 30 per cent.
Protests erupted in the coastal enclave today as a result of the deductions with some employees saying their pay had been cut by as much as 70 per cent. One protester said his salary went down to a mere 50 shekels ($14) after the deduction.
"This is completely illegal and we cannot accept this," Walid Al-Awad, a leader of the Palestinian People's Party (PPS) said in a statement.
This is clear "discrimination between the Palestinian people and promotes division", protesters said in reference to the fact that only the salaries of workers in Gaza were affected by the cuts while those in the occupied West Bank received their full wages.
The Palestinian government said in a statement issued yesterday that the deductions were a temporary measure, citing a "suffocating financial siege" imposed on the State of Palestine.
Mohammed Shakhsa, a Palestinian doctor who is an employee of the Ramallah government, questioned whether the decision was "Palestinian".
Yousif Al-Mahmoud, a spokesman for the PA, told Ma'an that the deductions were made only to salary bonuses, without any deductions to base salaries.
Some 17,000 PA government employees in the Gaza Strip receive salaries from the Ministry of Finance in Ramallah. The majority do not work in accordance with a decision made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which called for them to cease work in protest against Hamas' authority over the Gaza Strip.