Palestinian Finance Minister Omar Abdel Razek said that the Palestinian Authority expects to receive loans and grants next week, which will enable it to pay the overdue salaries of Palestinian clerks working in the public sector, the Palestinian newspaper al-Hayat al-Jadida reported Sunday morning.
The minister did not mention the source and the extent of the funds.
During an open discussion held in the West Bank town of el-Bireh under the banner "The government's economic plan," Abdel Razek said that "the salary issue tops the list of priorities and is a source of constant arguments."
He pointed to the PA's difficult situation, which is manifested in the fact that the daily costs amount to approximately USD 6 million. According to the minister, the PA can only spend USD 3 million per month.
The salaries of 140,000 PA workers have not been paid in the past two weeks. In the meantime, Israel is withholding the monthly transfer of tax funds totaling USD 50 million. Both the United States and the European Union decided that the aid funds would be transferred from now on directly for humanitarian causes, in order to "bypass" the Hamas government.
Gunmen block Gaza Strip (Photo: Reuters)
In light of the crisis, dozens of Palestinian police officers sealed off
a main road in the central Gaza city of Khan Younis Saturday in protest of their overdue salaries. They shot in the air and then took over a building of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
About 50 masked police officers blocked the traffic on the main road leading from Khan Younis to the rest of the Strip. Drivers were forced to leave their cars and walk. Stores were closed and local residents gathered to watch the violent protest, including schoolchildren who left their classrooms.
Road leading to Karni crossing deserted
A similar incident took place a number of days ago, when some 20 gunmen entered the Palestinian prime minister's office in Ramallah and demanded that the transportation minister go back on his decision and provide taxi licenses as the former minister promised.
The deteriorating economic situation can be witnessed by taking a brief look at the Karni crossing, where 1,300 shipping containers of supply and food used to make their way toward 1.3 million people back in the good old days.
The main road leading to the crossing is now completely empty. The guarding post overlooking the area was also abandoned.
As the British Observer reported, the economic support funds are also being used up, worsening the extreme crisis in the Gaza Strip. The Karni crossing has been closed following an IDF order, in light of the large number of security warnings received by the defense establishment ahead of the Passover holiday.
John Ging, Director of Gaza Operations for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), referred to the humanitarian situation in the Strip, saying that although he does not expect people to starve, "the clock is now ticking… counting down to a food crisis."
UNRWA aids 962,000 refugees in the Gaza Strip and provides food to 765,000 of them.