Thousands of Palestinian Authority (PA) employees demonstrated in Gaza City on Saturday, as protests continued against a PA decision to impose drastic salary cuts for its Gaza-based employees.The protesters gathered at the al-Saraya square and chanted against the move, and called on leaders in the Palestinian government, particularly Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Finance Minister Shukri Bishara, to resign.
Leave! Leave! Oh Hamdallah!, Leave! Leave! Oh Bishara,
Some demonstrators described the decision to cut their salaries as "discrimination against Gaza," and rejected the "trivial and untrue justifications and excuses," the government provided for the decision.
The PA has said the cuts came as an attempt to manage a deepening financial crisis, which they say has been exacerbated by Hamas — the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip — for allegedly continuing to collect government revenues without sending it the PA treasury.
However, critics have countered that had the decision been simply a reaction to a financial crisis, then deductions should have been made to all PA civil servants — including those in the occupied West Bank — and further expressed concern that the cuts would only further isolate Gazans from the rest of the Palestinian territory.
Employees at the rally called on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to form a national unity government and to treat Gaza and its residents as its top priority.
Meanwhile, Gaza-based Deputy Secretary General of the Fatah Revolutionary Council Fayis Abu Eita said in a statement that thousands of employees and Fatah supporters gathered at the square and demanded that Abbas "intervene immediately and ensure justice for Gaza employees, just like the rest of the PA's government employees."
These crowds in Gaza came to confirm their complete support for President Abbas, and to appeal to him to cancel the unjust measures,
Abu Eita also added that the people blamed Hamdallah for the salary cuts, which he said would "take food from their children."
Head of the journalists union in the Gaza Strip Tahson al-Astal told Ma'an that the public outrage reflected the "tyrannical" nature of the decision to slash the salaries, which he said will harm scores of families in the poverty-stricken enclave, where some of the highest unemployment rates in the world are recorded, he said the following:
This is another siege added to the one already imposed by the Israeli occupation,
On Wednesday, PA civil servants in Gaza received their March salaries with at least a 30 percent salary cuts, sparking protests among already struggling PA employees. Prime Minister Hamdallah has highlighted that the deductions were made only to monthly salary allowances, without any deductions from base salaries.
Critics have noted that after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, the Fatah-led PA encouraged their Gaza-based employees not to continue working in protest of the new Hamas-led government.
Some 50,000 employees who decided to continue their work under Hamas subsequently faced irregular and partial salaries from the PA, and at times no payment at all. Meanwhile, tens of the thousands of employees who refused work with Hamas continued to receive regular salary payments from the PA. The new salary cuts have reportedly affected all PA employees in Gaza