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Gaza: Hamas facing severe financial crisis

December 29, 2018 at 11:13 am

Public officials withdraw money after the Palestinian government deducted their wage on 1 June 2017 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Hamas is facing a severe financial crisis which is curbing its ability to pay Palestinians’ salaries in Gaza.

Hamas is suffering from a severe financial crisis which is impacting its activities in the besieged Gaza Strip, Anadolu Agency reported yesterday. Anadolu added that the crisis is no longer related only to government institutions in the Strip – which have been run by the movement since 2007 – but has now also affected Hamas’ other institutions.

Anadolu quoted personnel who work in Hamas’ private institutions as saying they “have not been paid full and stable salaries for several months”.

Hamas’ financial crisis was thrust into the spotlight last week when the movement’s Al-Aqsa TV announced it would stop broadcasting immediately. The channel admitted it faced a crippling a financial crisis caused by Israel’s complete destruction of its headquarters in November, in the midst of escalated tensions and violence in the besieged enclave.

However, Head of Hamas’ political bureau Ismail Haniyeh quickly intervened, stressing that the TV channel would not be suspended and would continue its work.

Anadolu quoted Director General of Al-Aqsa TV, Wissam Afifah, as saying that “the financial crisis is related to the accumulation of debts by those companies broadcasting the channel, in addition to other operating debts accumulated during the last period”. Afifah added:

Previously we were managing the debt crisis, but because of the bombing of the channel’s headquarters a few weeks ago, we suffered losses exceeding four million dollars and lost all the channel’s capabilities. The crisis has expanded and dealing with it became a more difficult task.

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Afifah continued: “We are currently managing the channel from an emergency management site and we are witnessing an unprecedented crisis that has not reached this level of financial deficit before.”

Although Al-Aqsa TV is currently seeking donations to alleviate the situation, Afifah expressed his belief that the crisis is not limited to the channel but instead is a reflection of the broader financial conditions in the Gaza Strip caused by the Israeli blockade.

Employees working in other Hamas-affiliated institutions said that for months they have been paid only 50 per cent of their monthly salaries because of austerity measures taken by their institutions.

A staff member in one of Hamas’ media organisations in Gaza City, who did not wish to be named, said that he and his colleagues have been paid about 50 per cent of their salaries for more than 40 days. He added that: “This decision was taken because of the financial crisis in the institution,” which receives funding from Hamas, pointing out that there is no sign that they will be paid their full salaries in the near future.

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