Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza
Al-Shifa Hospital in GazaReuters

The Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday stopped providing medical services for Gazans for the first time since it opened in 1964.

The decision to halt medical services was made following a strike by the hospital cleaning staff that began the previous day.

As a result of the strike, 200 operations have been postponed at the largest medical center in Gaza.

The Hamas newspaper Felesteen reported that the hospital's cleaning workers started a strike after the cleaning companies that employed them did not receive the money earmarked for the salaries of the workers from the Palestinian Authority (PA) government in Ramallah.

Hamas accuses the PA of continuing its punitive economic measures against Gaza. A row between Hamas and Fatah over salaries is one of the factors that have stalled an attempt at reconciliation between the sides.

Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in October, as part of which Hamas was to transfer power in Gaza by December 1. That deadline was initially put back by 10 days and then appeared to have been cancelled altogether after it reportedly hit “obstacles”.

In addition to disagreements over the fate of public employees in Gaza, sharp disagreements remain between Fatah leader and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas over security control of the enclave.

Abbas has demanded that the armed militias in Gaza disarm as part of the implementation of the agreement, but Hamas has categorically rejected this demand.