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Security officers join the fight for back pay from government



Published: Wed, September 6, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Palestinian security officers went on the rampage in Gaza City on Tuesday to demand back pay from the cash-strapped Hamas-led government, while Israel pressed ahead with its offensive against Hamas militants, killing three.

Several thousand Palestinian security officers fired rifles in the air and assaulted the parliament building, the first time armed forces have joined the workers' protests over back pay.

Late Tuesday, three Hamas militants were killed in two Israeli airstrikes at cars in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza. The military said it was targeting Hamas militants in both attacks.

Since an Israeli soldier was captured in a cross-border raid by Palestinian militants in late June, Israeli forces have been operating in Gaza, hunting militants.

The Palestinian government has been in a financial crisis since Hamas took over in March after winning parliamentary elections. Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel, has refused international pressure to renounce violence and recognize the Jewish state. In response, Western donors cut off aid.

Without the foreign funds, the government has been unable to pay salaries to its 165,000 workers for months, giving them small, sporadic stipends instead. Seeking a way out of the crisis, Abbas has been calling for Hamas to soften its positions and form a national unity government.

Fatah, which controls many of the unions and dominates the powerful security forces, has openly supported the strikes, drawing accusations from Hamas that the stoppage is politically motivated.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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