Despite Israel's objection, the Palestinian Authority's Finance Ministry has recently paid several Hamas operatives' salaries with money Israel transferred to the PA, Palestinian media sources revealed yesterday.
A senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip told the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency that 3,500 members of its "operational force" had recently received salaries from June 2006 to June 2007.
The official, Sabr Khalifa, added that the figure of salary recipients constituted half of the entire force.
The Palestinian Finance Ministry, however, at some point ordered the Bank of Palestine, where the bank deposited the money for the salaries, to withdraw the funds from some of the recipients' accounts. Some Hamas operatives who heard of the payment and arrived to withdraw the money, discovered the salaries had already been withdrawn by the Finance Ministry.
Following Hamas' violent seizure of power in the Gaza Strip last June, Israel transferred Palestinian tax money to the PA to allow PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to pay the public sector its withheld wages. Israel conditioned the move on an explicit stipulation that the money not be paid to Hamas operatives.
Abbas yesterday reiterated his refusal to engage in dialogue with Hamas. In his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubabrak in Alexandria, Abbas termed Hamas' June putsch "detrimental to the formation of a Palestinian state."
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