The government of Qatar has offered to pay disgruntled Hamas employees in Gaza, in a bid to diffuse simmering tensions which are already threatening to scupper the nascent "unity government" between the Islamist group and Fatah.
According to Palestinian Authority spokesman Ihab Bseiso, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Nasir bin Khalifa al-Thani pledged a total of $60 million to pay Hamas employees, after the group's leadership to dismantle its official government in Gaza as part of the unity deal.
The Qatari Prime Minister told his PA counterpart Rami Hamdallah that $20 million would be transferred each month for three months to pay Gaza employees," Bseiso told AFP.
The money from the oil-rich Gulf State would be given to the PA as part of a special fund to pay Hamas employees.
Qatar has long been a supporter of both Hamas and its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, but this latest injection of funds was prompted by an incident last week, when angry brawls broke out between Hamas and PA workers in Gaza, after only the latter group were paid their wages.
Thousands of Hamas employees, who have not been paid for the last several weeks, lined up at bank ATMs in Gaza last Thursday, hoping to now withdraw their back-logged salaries thanks to the unity government.
But while PA employees were able to withdraw their salaries, the Hamas workers remained without payment. Fistfights broke out between the two groups of employees, with Hamas riot police breaking them up and closing the banks, reportedly to prevent more violence.