The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is deeply concerned over the continued closure of the banks in the Gaza Strip for 6 days, as former Gaza government employees prevented Palestinian Authority (PA) employees from receiving their salaries — this, in protest against the non-payment of their own salaries by the new national consensus government resulting from the Palestinian ‘reconciliation’.On Wednesday, 04 June 2014, violence erupted and the PA employees were denied access to the banks and ATMs. The Palestinian police then intervened and beat a number of them.
PCHR warns of the disastrous impacts left by the closure of the banks on the Gaza Strip’s economic situation, which has been already deteriorating due to the collective punishment and closure policy imposed by the Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip for 7 years. All financial transactions through the banks have been suspended threatening the economic sectors to be paralyzed. This also portends more suffering not only to the public employees but to all citizens, especially the poor ones, including thousands of families of the deceased and wounded as well as socially insecure persons as they are not able to obtain the financial allocations they receive monthly or regularly.
In light of the continuation of this crisis without any close possible solutions threatening the future of the Palestinian reconciliation and putting it in front of a serious challenge in its beginning, PCHR:
· Emphasizes that the crisis of salaries is a completely political crisis and that the solution to this crisis must be one of the key priorities of the Palestinian President, Hamas and Fatah movements as well as the new Palestinian government. All efforts must be devoted to ensure the payment of the salaries to all the public employees on the basis of recognizing the right of each government employee to receive his/her salary regularly and systematically, without prejudice or discrimination based on political affiliations or other grounds. PCHR calls upon the Prime Minister to contain the crisis and reassure the PA employees, including the former Gaza government employees whose problem was agreed to be solved.
· Expresses its deep concern over the deterioration of economic and social conditions due to the suspension of the banking activities and warns of further deterioration to these conditions as thousands of families in the Gaza Strip have become without any source of income that provides them with their needs of food, clothes and other necessary needs. Moreover, this situation threatens the future of the Palestinian reconciliation.
· Condemns the violence acts which accompanied the crisis and demands conducting an investigation into them. During those violence acts, many persons, including women and journalists, were beaten up by the police officers. PCHR demands taking all legal measures against whoever violated the law. Respecting human rights must be the ultimate goals of law enforcement.
· Stresses the role of the Palestinian police and security services, which are considered as law enforcement bodies, to promote the principle of the rule of law, maintain the public order and protect the safety and security of civilians and public and private property, including banks and ATMs. The role of the law enforcement officials is to open the Gaza banks immediately and facilitate their work as well as protecting civilians and enabling them to have safe access into them. The continued closure of the banks constitutes a dangerous precedent that must be ended. Moreover, banks must not be involved in the problems resulting from the reconciliation issue or the division remnants.
· Points out that this is the first problem since the beginning of the reconciliation and the formation of the national consensus government, but it will not be the last one. The reconciliation has been established on the basis of consensus and both parties should provide compromises for the public interest. This is the spirit that must prevail and which we expect from both parties.