Hamas activist shot as workers demand payment
A senior member of Hamas' military wing was shot in the chest in a drive-by shooting early Saturday, Palestinian security officials and Hamas officials said. The man, Abdel Hadi Siyam, 35, was taken from the hospital to a Hamas clinic for security reasons, a Hamas spokesman, Abu Obeidah, said.
Siyam, who is wanted by Israel, was fired at in the same neighborhood two months ago by Palestinian security forces, but escaped injury, Hamas said, according to the AP. Palestinian security sources said Siyam is a cousin of Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam of Hamas.
Meanwhile, the Hamas-led cabinet has vowed that civil servants will receive their back salaries early next week amid growing discontent after four months without pay and many delays. It was the fourth time in a week that the Hamas-led government, grappling with a financial crisis after Western countries cut off direct aid, has promised the government's 160,000 civil servants imminent paychecks.
"On Monday, those employees who make less than 1,500 shekels (330 dollars) a month can go to the banks and get their salaries," finance minister Omar Abdelrazeq said at a press conference in Ramallah on Saturday.
Monday's payment of one month's salaries for the lowest earning workers will cost the Palestinian Authority 60 million shekels (13 million dollars), Abdelrazeq conveyed. Those earning more than 1,500 shekels will be paid in the next stage, he said.
Hamas government spokesman Ghazi Hamad told AFP Saturday that the repeated delays were because of procedural problems.
Despite the promises, workers took to the streets in the northern West Bank town of Nablus and in Ramallah Saturday to demand wages which have not been paid since February.
In Nablus, some 2,000 frustrated government employees, armed Palestinian police among them, held up photographs of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his successor Mahmud Abbas, chanting "We want our wages, not promises."
In Ramallah, another 100 protestors, mostly women and children relatives of Palestinian prisoners, shut down the city's main route by laying across the road and setting tires on fire.