August 23, 2006.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) gave some 5,000
members of Hamas’ special “operational force” salaries this week, Palestinian
sources say. The salaries came from funds the Arab League sent to Abu
Mazen’s office to pay the wages of 170,000 PA officials. Most members of the
“operational force” belong to Hamas’ military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, led by
Yussef al-Zahar, the Palestinian foreign minister’s brother.
Members of the force have led some of the clashes with the PA’s preventive
security forces in Gaza. They are being paid by Abu Mazen, rather than by the
government because of the economic blockade imposed on Hamas by the
According to Palestinian sources, the European Union operates a body which,
together with Abu Mazen, supervises the transfer of the payments from the
Arab League. On Saturday it approved $89 million for payment of salaries going
back to the month of May. However some 20 special advisers to the
government were not permitted to receive payments. The operational force was
nevertheless allowed to receive money because it joined the Palestinian police
force six weeks ago as part of Abu Mazen’s agreement with Hamas.