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How Blocked Hamas Paychecks Could Reignite Gaza

Palestinian cleaners protest to demand their salaries in Gaza City.
Palestinian cleaners protest to demand their salaries in Gaza City.
Danny Rubinstein

TEL AVIV — In recent days we have been witnessing growing discontent among Hamas public employees in Gaza who have not been paid their salaries. The situation endangers the coalition government between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and it is without exaggeration to say that the non-payment by the government in Ramallah could restart the rocket fire from Gaza.

Last Thursday, after more than three months of waiting in vain for salaries to come from Ramallah, Hamas decided to pay its workers in Gaza from its own reserves a minimum wage of 1000 shekels ($275). This is blatant proof of a deepening crisis between the two Palestinian camps.

Looking back, it is obvious now that it was a major budgetary crisis inside the Hamas government last spring that made them accept a coalition government.

Can Qatar help?

Last week, Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister, said that his government has not been able to operate from its offices in Gaza since Hamas officers are not cooperating. "The banks are not willing to transfer money to Hamas out of fear of being boycotted," said Hamdallah. "Even my government is threatening not to send money to Hamas employees."

Leaders from Qatar have promised to transfer money for the salaries, but since Hamas is considered a terrorist organization, whoever might transfer the money risks an international boycott.

Apparently, the salary issue was discussed in a meeting held in Doha, Qatar’s capital, between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and and Hamas chief Khaled Mashal.

Excerpts of the meeting were published in Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar:

Mashal: "Abbas, you must take matters into your own hands and order your government to pay the employees (of Hamas in Gaza)."

Abbas: "It is a tough issue, and it’s on our agenda."

Mashal: "How is it possible that people are not being paid?"

Abbas: "What are you, a beggar?" (Meaning, don’t you have money to pay them?)

Mashal: "You have to solve that problem immediately, let the people live."

Abbas: "I have no way of doing that."

It does not look like Mashal’s demands are being fulfilled. The government in Ramallah has enough difficulties paying its own 150,000 employees, of which 70,000 are in Gaza. There is no way they can add another 45,000 salaries.

All of this leaves the coalition government of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority extremely fragile, and does not allow it to operate normally. A collapse of the coalition could come next, and the crisis that would follow could reignite the missile fire from Gaza.

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A Naturalist's Defense Of The Modern Zoo

Zoos are often associated with animal cruelty, or at the very least a general animal unhappiness. But on everything from research to education to biodiversity, there is a case to be made for the modern zoo.

Photograph of a brown monkey holding onto a wired fence

A brown monkey hangs off of mesh wire

Marina Chocobar/Pexels
Fran Sánchez Becerril


MADRID — Zoos — or at least something resembling the traditional idea of a zoo — date back to ancient Mesopotamia. It was around 3,500 BC when Babylonian kings housed wild animals such as lions and birds of prey in beautiful structures known as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Ancient China also played a significant role in the history of zoos when the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) created several parks which hosted an assortment of animals.

In Europe, it wouldn't be until 1664 when Louis XIV inaugurated the royal menagerie at Versailles. All these spaces shared the mission of showcasing the wealth and power of the ruler, or simply served as decorations. Furthermore, none of them were open to the general public; only a few fortunate individuals, usually the upper classes, had access.

The first modern zoo, conceived for educational purposes in Vienna, opened in 1765. Over time, the educational mission has become more prominent, as the exhibition of exotic animals has been complemented with scientific studies, conservation and the protection of threatened species.

For decades, zoos have been places of leisure, wonder, and discovery for both the young and the old. Despite their past success, in recent years, society's view of zoos has been changing due to increased awareness of animal welfare, shifting sensibilities and the possibility of learning about wild animals through screens. So, many people wonder: What is the purpose of a zoo in the 21st century?

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