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Gaza workers protest over pay cuts imposed by West Bank

Civil servants express anger at decision by Palestinian Authority to reduce wages by 30 percent
A PA employee holds a poster of Yasser Arafat during a protest in Gaza City (Reuters)

Fresh protests against civil service pay cuts broke out in Gaza on Saturday, amid pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to act.

The decision this week by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to impose pay cuts on its civil servants in the Gaza Strip has sparked anger among the employees, with protests throughout the week.

Tens of thousands took to a square in central Gaza City Saturday in the largest protest since the 30-percent cut was announced, with demonstrators calling on PA leader Abbas to sack his government.

A handful of protesters announced they would begin a hunger strike, a spokesman told AFP.

Hamas, the group that runs Gaza, has been at loggerheads with Abbas's Fatah party since the former seized the Strip in a near civil war in 2007.

Fatah runs the West Bank, the other part of the Palestinian territories separated from Gaza by Israeli territory.

After Hamas seized power, around 70,000 PA employees in Gaza they lost their posts but they were kept on its payroll nevertheless.

Hamas set up its own parallel administration with 50,000 staff, whose salaries the PA refuses to pay.

Earlier this week the Fatah-run PA announced the pay cuts, saying they were necessary because its budget has been hit by falling foreign aid.

In 2014 Fatah and Hamas agreed to form a unity government that was meant to resolve their dispute but it has remained stillborn, with no real control in either territory.

Local elections due to take place have also been suspended in the Gaza Strip after infighting between Fatah and Hamas, though they are expected to take place next month in the West Bank.

Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza for a decade, severely damaging the enclave's economy.

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