Monday, September 15, 2008

Teachers Trapped Between Fatah and Hamas

By Mohammed Omer

"GAZA CITY, Sep 15 (IPS) - A strike call has trapped thousands of teachers between Fatah unions and a Hamas government.

The strike in Gaza called by the Palestine Teachers' Union -- a non-elected body supported by the government of Palestine Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank -- continues into its third week.....

Teachers in Gaza say they were ordered by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) to stay home or have their salaries withheld, and even face dismissal. And at the same time, the Hamas government threatened to sack striking teachers. Hamas controls administration of Gaza, but PA pays the salaries.

"I was informed by an official that I had been dismissed for not supporting the strike," Mussa al-Astal, a social studies teacher at a secondary school in Khan Younis, a city located in the south of Gaza Strip, told IPS. Astal says he also found his name listed on a Fatah-affiliated website.

Palestinian minister for the media Riad al-Malki in Ramallah denied the allegation. "We did not call for a strike, and there will be no cutting off of salaries for Gaza's employees." But many teachers have found that salaries have not been paid into their banks.

Several PA backed unions are working now against the Hamas government. Hamas has immediately called for new teachers to substitute those on strike, but has not found many with the necessary qualifications and experience....."

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