Saturday, October 06, 2007

Hamas "security officials" paid from "suitcases full of shekels"

This intriguing little item is from the Palestinian Ramattan News Agency:
Hamas led government in Gaza paid thousands of Gaza security officials on Friday by handing cash money from suitcases avoiding banks, because Israel is pressuring to shun Hamas.

Hamas official said Hamas planned to pay some 20,000 security troops and civil servants their September salaries from suitcases full of shekels, which are still used in the territory.

"We do not want to embarrass the banks and we do not want to allow the Americans and others to undermine these banks," he said.

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June after it routed Fatah, prompting Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to sack the Hamas-led government and appoint a Fatah-backed administration in the West Bank.

Israel and Western powers have tried to block funds from reaching Hamas through the Palestinian and international banking system as part of a policy to support Abbas and isolate Hamas.

The Hamas official said the group was paying at least 10,000 Hamas security officials on Friday at police stations and security posts. The remaining 10,000 civil servants would be paid in cash on Sunday and Monday at the Post Office, which is run by Hamas' telecommunications ministry.

A top Palestine Islamic Bank official said any accounts opened by militants at branches in the Gaza Strip have already been closed despite threats from Hamas. Bank officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday . . .

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