Hamas police take money from bank in Gaza for first time

Hamas said the men were executing a court order to seize the assets of a medical organisation, the Patient's Friend Association.

Hamas police take money from bank in Gaza for first time

Hamas security forces took $400,000 from a bank in the Gaza Strip on Monday.

Hamas said the men were executing a court order to seize the assets of a medical organisation, the Patient's Friend Association.

Gaza is still considered under Israeli occupation as Israel controls air, sea and land access to the Strip.

On February, Palestinians said that Hamas has failed to pay the January salaries of many of the 34,000 Palestinian civil servants and security men, blaming on the delay on new "technical procedures" under which cash is distributed at post offices and the newly established Palestinian Islamic National Bank.

Seeking to apply global regulations against money laundering, the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) froze the association's account after its board fell under Hamas control, banking sources said.

Ehab Al-Ghsain, spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry, said Monday's move was "the implementation of a judicial decision".

Hamas usually settles its $16 million payroll at the beginning of each month.

A Palestinian Authority official has said Hamas uses tunnels to bring in money to pay employees. Hamas has said only that it has used means "above ground and underground" to import cash.

The association had "resorted to court after the Fatah government froze its account in the bank," he said. One employee of the Bank of Palestine, who declined to be named, said the Hamas policemen had forced the staff to open the bank's vault and acted "aggressively".

"They took 1.5 million shekels ($400,000) and signed a paper showing the amount of money they had taken," the employee said.

It was the first time Hamas had challenged the PMA, which functions as regulator of the Palestinian banking system in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Banks in the Gaza Strip would stage a strike on Tuesday to protest at the raid, Wazir said. Around a dozen banks, Palestinian- and Arab-owned, still function in the Gaza Strip, though their headquarters are in the West Bank.

1.5 million Gazans still live under heavy Israel siege and Egypt still insists on not to opening the only Gaza border crossing in a move condemned by Muslims around the world in protests, leaving Gazans desperate to digging tunnels underground and risking their lives since 2007.

A group of international lawyers and human rights activists had also accused Israel of committing "genocide" through its crippling blockade of the Strip.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Mart 2010, 08:00
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