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Hamas slams Ramallah govt move to retire Gaza employees

HAMAS SLAMS RAMALLAH GOVT MOVE TO RETIRE GAZA EMPLOYEES

Hamas on Tuesday blasted a decision by the Ramallah-based Palestinian government to force thousands of Gaza-based government employees into early retirement.

"This decision is a continuation of the policy of collective punishment imposed by the government of [Palestinian Prime Minister] Rami Hamdallah," Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said in a statement.

Describing the move as "inhumane and unethical", Qassem said the decision "only serves to tighten the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip", according to the same statement.

"The Hamdallah government has effectively abandoned its responsibilities in Gaza," the spokesman added.

He went on to urge the Ramallah government to "reverse this decision and assume its legal, political and moral responsibilities" for the embattled Gaza Strip's dire political and humanitarian situation.

Earlier Tuesday, the Ramallah government announced its decision to refer 6,145 civil servants in Gaza to early retirement, describing the move as a "temporary measure".

In comments to Anadolu Agency, government spokesman Yussuf al-Mahmoud said the decision had technically come into force on July 1.

In a related development the same day, dozens of Palestinians in Gaza staged a demonstration to show solidarity with medical patients who have been barred from leaving the strip despite needing treatment abroad.

Tuesday's demonstration was organized by the Gaza-based National Committee for Breaking the Siege in cooperation with a handful of local professional syndicates.

"For the 11th year in a row, residents of the Gaza Strip, especially the sick, have suffered from the dire humanitarian situation caused by Israel's ongoing siege," protest organizer Iyad al-Maghari said at a press conference held on the event's sidelines.

"The Palestinian government's suspension of medical trips abroad [for Gazan medical patients] has led to the death of at least 14 people," he said, adding that the Ramallah government had suspended medical supplies to the strip -- an assertion the government, for its part, has denied.

In 2014, Hamas (which has governed Gaza for the last 10 years) agreed with rival Palestinian movement Fatah (which runs the Palestinian Authority) to establish a unity government in Ramallah.

The so-called unity government, however, has so far failed to assume any governing role in Gaza due to outstanding differences between the two ideologically-opposed movements.

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