Gaza doctors protest retirements imposed by Ramallah


Several Gaza-based doctors and nurses recently forced into early retirement by the Ramallah-based Palestinian government staged a demonstration on Tuesday to protest the move.

At the protest, which was organized by Gaza's Doctors Syndicate outside Gaza City's Al-Shifa Hospital, demonstrators held banners aloft, reading, "No to early retirement!" and "Palestinian Authority decisions are illegal".

The Palestinian government and the Palestinian Authority (PA) work in close coordination with one another. Both are based in the West Bank city of Ramallah and both are led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.

"Moves to force employees of [Gaza's] Health Ministry into early retirement constitute humanitarian crimes against both doctors and patients," syndicate head Fadel Naim said at the protest.

"Another 942 [Gaza-based] doctors are expected to soon be forced into retirement… these are experienced doctors whose good work has allowed the ministry to continue providing needed services," he lamented.

"The Doctors Syndicate views President Abbas's decision to force doctors into early retirement with great concern," Naim added.

On July 4, the Palestinian government announced its decision to force 6,145 of Gaza-based employees to accept early retirement without providing any justification for the move.

At the time, Palestine's official WAFA news agency quoted government spokesman Youssef al-Mahmoud as saying that the "temporary" measure could be reversed "in the event that Hamas halts all activities that contribute to internal [Palestinian] division".

Notably, in April, Abbas vowed to take "unprecedented steps" in regards to the Gaza Strip, which has been governed by Hamas since 2007 and which therefore remains outside Ramallah's control.

Abbas appears to have made good on his threat, with the Ramallah government recently cutting the salaries of all Gaza-based PA employees by some 30 percent.

The PA also recently reduced the amount it pays Israel for the provision of roughly 10 percent of Gaza's electricity needs -- a move that has exacerbated the coastal strip's already-dire energy shortage.

In 2014, Hamas and Fatah -- which govern the blockaded Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank respectively -- agreed in principle to establish a national unity government.

The "unity government" later set up in Ramallah, however, has largely failed to assume any governing role in Gaza due to outstanding ideological differences between the two rival factions.

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