A Palestinian child waits with his father, a Hamas-hired employee
Gaza City - AFP
Palestinian movement Hamas on Thursday began paying a months-long backlog of salaries to more than 40,000 of its employees in the Gaza Strip, the finance ministry announced.
Hamas, which formally governed Gaza until early June, had been unable to pay many of its employees from October 2013 due to a biting financial crisis caused by Egypt's closure of cross-border tunnels through which most of Islamist movement's financial support was delivered.
Other employees had received only a partial salary.
It was the first time in months the employees had been paid, with workers each receiving between 1,000-4,500 shekels ($276-$1,240/215-960 euros), depending on their pay grade, the finance ministry said.
Although the Hamas government technically stood down on June 2, handing over power to a Ramallah-based government of national consensus, it has remained the de facto power in Gaza.
Hamas officials, who wished to remain anonymous, told AFP it was able to begin paying the backlog due to tax monies it had collected, enabling it to cover partial payment of all salaries from October through to May.
Political analyst Mukhaimer Abu Saada said funds were also likely to have come from aid pouring into Gaza during and after a bloody 50-day conflict with Israel that ended August 26, as well as from friendly donors such as Qatar.
Hamas has insisted that the national consensus government headed by prime minister Rami Hamdallah take the employees onto its payroll.
In June, Qatar said it would contribute a total of $60 million (44 million euros) towards the payment of the Gaza salaries, though there have been no reports yet of money being transferred.