Hamas terrorists in Gaza
Hamas terrorists in GazaAbed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

A group of former employees in the Hamas-run government in Gaza went on a hunger strike Tuesday, following a day of protests over unpaid salaries.

An employees' union official told the Ma’an news agency that former civil servants are carrying out sit-in protests inside the Palestinian cabinet's headquarters until their salaries are paid.

"Our sit-in is peaceful and we do not want to destroy public property, but we will stay here until our members are recognized and their salaries paid," Khalil al-Zayyan was quoted as having said.

The consensus government condemned the protest and said demonstrators threatened ministers holding a meeting and damaged their cars.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the consensus government must stop “discrimination” between employees in Ramallah and Gaza.

Since striking a unity deal with longtime rival Fatah, Hamas been demanding the new government pay the salaries of the 50,000 civil servants it recruited after its takeover of Gaza in 2007, who took the jobs of 70,000 Fatah employees.

Zayyan noted that staff recruited by the former Hamas administration had not received any wages for at least seven months.

"They can no longer support their families, this is unacceptable," he said.

Hamas employees were enraged in June when the new unity government did not pay their salaries at the start of the month, despite the 70,000 PA employees in Gaza being able to withdraw their paychecks. The rage boiled over into fistfights, with Hamas eventually shutting down all the banks in Gaza for roughly a week.

Partial payments of $1,200 each were made to 24,000 Hamas civil servants in late October. But the other 26,000, who work in security functions, have received nothing.

"We've had enough of the false promises. Either the government resigns or it takes all of Gaza's responsibilities, like in the West Bank," Zayyan said, according to Ma’an.

At the end of December, hundreds of Hamas civil servants blocked the entrance to the unity government's headquarters during a visit to Gaza by unity government ministers.

The ongoing dispute over salaries is the latest in a series of signs that the Hamas-Fatah government is slowly crumbling.

The reconciliation attempt has been rocked by tensions, most notably Hamas's attempt to stage a violent coup in Judea and Samaria against the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri recently said that the six-month mandate of the unity government agreed on in April and established in June had ended. He was preceded by the head of Hamas’s politburo, Khaled Mashaal, who said that the Palestinian reconciliation "scene" was not satisfying.