The Palestinian government has ordered the closure of 103 institutions in the West Bank and Gaza, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Monday, in an apparent crackdown aimed at Hamas. The formal reason is violation of laws governing civil groups.
Implementation of the order began Sunday, Fayyad said, adding that is was part of a wider reform. He would not list the targeted institutions but said their bank accounts would be frozen. Of the 2,400 registered institutions, 103 are to be closed, officials said.
The order appeared aimed at Hamas because its strength is based on a network of groups that provide welfare to many Palestinians. Its strongest social welfare base is in the Gaza Strip, but also has groups in the West Bank.
Fayyad denied the decision was aimed at Hamas alone, but added, "When there is a violation of the law, should I stop there and say there is a sensitivity because this institution might be a Hamas one? This is not acceptable."
Fayyad said the affected institutions could appeal the orders to Palestinian courts. He also stated that his government will provide for those who are harmed by the shutting down of these groups.
"Our responsibility as an authority is to look after all sectors of society, especially those vulnerable groups that need help," he said. "We are the address for that. The Palestinian Authority is committed to these needs."
It was unclear how Fayyad's government could carry out the edict in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas after the Islamist group's violent takeover of the territory in June.