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GAZA - Hamas has failed to pay the January salaries of many of the 34000 Palestinian civil servants and security men in the Gaza Strip, raising concern among them that the globally isolated Islamist group is facing a cash crisis.
"They paid some minor employees whose salaries were under 1 000 shekels (R2 017)," one police officer, who identified himself only as Abu Anas, said yesterday. "I am worried there is a financial problem."
Other Palestinians on the government payroll in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip also said they had not been paid.
A senior official at the Hamas-run finance ministry blamed the delay on new "technical procedures" under which cash is distributed at post offices and the newly established Palestinian Islamic National Bank.
"We have divided the employees into categories depending on their salaries.
"We began paying those with small salaries and I hope by the end of this week all the other employees will be paid."
Hamas usually settles its $16million (R124million) payroll at the beginning of each month and the delay raised speculation in Gaza that Egypt's construction of a metal barrier to cut off cross-border smuggling tunnels could have caused a cash crunch. - Reuters