PA to force 6,000 Gaza employees to retire

Move seen as attempt to squeeze Hamas rulers of Gaza Strip as reconciliation efforts continue to fail

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PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
STR/Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority will force more than 6,000 employees in the Gaza Strip into early
retirement, it said Tuesday, the latest attempt to squeeze the Hamas-controlled territory.

The PA, based in Judea and Samaria, is dominated by the Fatah faction of chairman Mahmoud Abbas, a fierce rival of Hamas.

Multiple attempts at reconciliation have failed and Abbas has sought to weaken the Islamists in recent months.

PA spokesman Tarek Rishmawi said the decision was taken as Hamas was blocking attempts at reconciliation.

He said 6,150 Gaza-based employees of the Palestinian Authority would be affected.

After Hamas seized the territory in a near civil war in 2007, the PA continued to pay its former civil servants regular salaries but earlier this year reduced them.

Analysts say such moves are designed to create animosity towards Hamas in Gaza while slightly easing the PA's financial woes.

Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoum called the forced retirements "immoral and inhumane."

Last month the PA stopped paying Israel for electricity to be delivered to Gaza, leaving the Strip with just two hours of power a day until Egypt offered some fuel as aid.