GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Traffic officer Mohammad Mokhtar observes with pity the queues of Palestinian Authority (PA) employees lining up at the beginning of each month in front of the Bank of Palestine in Gaza City to receive their monthly salaries. Meanwhile, his colleague Raed al-Halabi is busy controlling traffic to guarantee that the employees receive their salaries in an organized and safe manner.
Mokhtar and Halabi are policemen who were hired by the previous Hamas government in Gaza along with about 17,000 military employees who work in the Ministry of Interior and National Security in Gaza. They were hired after the PA employees stopped work in the wake of Hamas’ taking control over the Gaza Strip in June 2007. As a result, they were seen as "illegitimate" employees in the eyes of the PA.