Palestinians Civil Servants on Strike

Tens of thousands of Palestinian government employees went on strike in the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday, September 2, in a wide-scale strike for not being paid for six months after the West had cut off its vital aid to the Palestinians, leaving their e

Palestinians Civil Servants on Strike

"This strike isn't against the government or against the president," Zakaria Al-Turkmani, the principal of the Palestinian School in Gaza City told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"We just want our salaries."

The Teachers' Union called for the strike in protest at unpaid salaries for 170,000 civil servants' salaries since March, when the West cut off vital aid the Palestinians as a punishment for democratically electing Hamas in January's parliamentary elections.

Most schools across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were closed on the first day of the new academic year. Government offices were also shuttered.

"Our strike is not directed against the government but it is a message to the government that they must act to end the crisis of salaries," Fadel Qandil, a spokesman for the Teacher's Union, told Reuters.

The Palestinian Authority has faced a financial crisis, sparking a financial meltdown and warnings of a potential humanitarian crisis.

"In June, after three months without pay, we did not want to strike because we did not want to disrupt exam time. But today, we have had enough. We want to be paid," said Mohammed Kheirallah, a young maths teacher.

The World Bank has warned that EU and US aid cuts, following Hamas's landslide parliamentary elections win in January, would adversely impact at least 30 percent of the Palestinian population which is dependent on government salaries.

Unemployment stands at around 45 percent and the World Bank has estimated that two-thirds of the Gaza Strip population (1.4 million) lives under the poverty line, earning less than two dollars a day.

Gov't Not to Blame

A Palestinian school boy waits for his parents to pick him up as he sits at the locked up door of his school in the West Bank.

But others refused to blame the government for the deplorable situation, launching a diatribe against the West for letting down the Palestinians in their trial.

Surrounded by students in the sunny courtyard, English teacher Hossam Ishtawi began to lose his temper.

"This strike is against the interests of the Palestinian people," he said.

"Who is responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians and the siege which is being imposed on us? Israel and the international community! We cannot ask the government to pay salaries if there is no money," he protested.

Sitting on a low wall in the shade, 17-year-old Ibrahim Al-Kabriti talked with some friends.

"We do not want this strike. The only thing we want to do is study," he said.

Mohammed Al-Haik disagreed.

"Of course we want to go to class, there are too many problems in the street -- violence, killing. But it is their (the teachers') right to protest. I support them," he said.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Friday urged government employees not to go along with the strike, saying they should instead focus their anger against Israel.

UN relief coordinator Jan Egeland on Friday, September 1, implored donor states to dig deep into their pockets to help the Palestinian people, warning that the situation in the Gaza Strip was a "ticking time bomb".

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) also warned on Friday that the Palestinian economy was collapsing due to the cutoff.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16