GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Controversy has not stopped the Land Authority in the Gaza Strip from proceeding with the second phase of a scheme to hand government-owned lands to Hamas government employees who have not been paid since 2013. Registration for the project's first phase began Dec. 14, and the distribution process took place on June 1-9. In the meantime, registration for phase two began in mid-May, with distribution yet to get underway.
This project was developed as Hamas continued to struggle with a crippling financial crisis, and the Palestinian consensus government, formed in 2014, refused to recognize Hamas government employees in Gaza as civil servants and therefore pay them. Hamas' Change and Reform Bloc from the Palestinian Legislative Council introduced the scheme on March 9, 2015. On Nov. 3, the consensus government weighed in, declaring the distribution of government-owned lands to employees illegal. According to the government in Ramallah, any such act is null and void, does not convey any rights and represents a violation of state property and lands.