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Middle East
Civil servants strike in West Bank
Public workers stage protest as Palestinian Authority fails to pay salaries.
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2009 19:29 GMT
Fayyad says $20m has been given to UN aid agencies to fund relief efforts in Gaza [AFP]

Thousands of government workers in the West Bank have gone on strike for 24 hours after the Palestinian Authority failed to pay their salaries for two weeks.

Bassam Zakarna, the head of the civil servants' union in the West Bank, said on Sunday that "the strike is complete", with all employees of the territory's political institutions taking part.

"The strike today is a warning, it is a shout out to the Arab countries and those pledged to provide aid to the Palestinian Authority," he said.

Teachers and the police, however, reportedly turned up for regular duty.

IN DEPTH

Analysis and features from Gaza after the war
Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, said on Sunday that the government had been unable to pay the workers' salaries on time because the money had been spent on assisting the people of Gaza.

Israel carried out a three-week assault on Gaza last month that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, as well as 13 Israelis.

Fayyad said $20m had been sent to UN agencies to help Gazans left homeless after the war.

About 150,000 people work for the Palestinian Authority, half of them in the Gaza Strip.

While many Gazan employees have stayed home since Hamas took exclusive control of the territory during Palestinian in-fighting in June 2007, they have continued to draw wages.

The Palestinian Authority has also sought to lead reconstruction efforts in Gaza, which has suffered a crippling Israeli blockade in addition to sanctions imposed by Western governments since the Hamas takeover.

Source:
Agencies
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