GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Thousands of government employees and security officials burned tires, blocked roads and fired shots in the air on Gaza streets Saturday to protest delays in receiving long-awaited salaries.

Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam ordered security forces to deploy in the streets today to prevent similar protests. The order authorized the use of “all means of force,” said ministry spokesman Khaled Abu Hilal.

“Those who protested today … do not represent security institutions. They are violating law and order, so they are illegal,” he said.

The Palestinian government on Thursday began paying partial salaries to 165,000 civil servants who haven’t received their full wages in months due to an economic embargo on the Palestinian Authority. The individual payments of $350 come from money donated to the government by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

But government employees complained that in some cases, the money hadn’t arrived, and in others they were left with nothing after Palestinian banks had deducted commissions and interest and paid off existing loans.

Outside Rafah City, protesters threw stones at the vehicle of Attalah Abu Sabh, Hamas’ minister of culture, breaking the windows of the car. Abu Sabh was unharmed, Hamas officials said. The protesters also tried to enter a number of schools and disrupt studies, witnesses said.

Israel and the West froze economic ties with the Palestinian Authority after the militant Islamic group Hamas took power in March. Hamas has refused international demands that it recognize Israel, accept signed peace agreements and renounce violence.

With the aid cut off, the government has been unable for six months to pay the full salaries to its workers, a major part of the Palestinian workforce. Government workers, including teachers, doctors and security officers, have repeatedly staged strikes demanding the salaries and calling for the resignation of the Hamas government.


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