The decision by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas compelling government employees in Gaza to take early retirement puts healthcare services at risk, a spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the enclave announced on Monday. Ashraf Al-Qidra told Quds Press that 40 per cent of the employees of his ministry would be affected by the early retirement move.
“This is the third angle of Abbas’s death triangle,” explained Al-Qidra. “The first was halting medicines to Gaza; the second was halting medical treatment referrals; the third is sending employees of the ministry of health away.”
He said that there are 3,679 employees in his ministry paid by the national agreement government run by the PA in Ramallah. He expects all of them to face obligatory early retirement.
According to Al-Qidra, there are 942 doctors among these employees, including consultants and specialists. Alongside the doctors are 876 nurses, 221 pharmacists, 96 X-Ray specialists and 55 physiotherapists, as well as 99 maintenance and engineering experts. The spokesman warned of the danger to healthcare provision in the besieged territory if they lose so many doctors and nurses, who are the backbone of the services provided by the ministry.
On 4 July, the PA targeted 6,145 of its employees in Gaza for early retirement. Some of them were notified and were asked to apply for retirement applications to be processed by the relevant government departments. This decision came after a series of punishing measures taken by Abbas against the Palestinians in Gaza, including cutting payments to 277 ex-prisoners, apparently under Israeli and US pressure.
In April, the PA government slashed 30 per cent of the salaries of its employees in Gaza, claiming that the decision was made as part of its “austerity” measures. However, Abbas and several PA officials reiterated that was part of a punishment plan being implemented against Gaza. Government employees in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem were not affected by salary cuts.
On Sunday, Abbas pledged to take even more punishing measures, ending with cutting all the salaries of government employees in Gaza. The PA leader said that they “do not deserve” these salaries.