Palestinian faction warns of `explosion` over Hamas taxes

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 23:34

Gaza City: A leftist Palestinian faction
warned on Tuesday of an "explosion" if the Islamist Hamas movement
continues collecting a raft of new taxes in its impoverished
Gaza enclave.

The rare harsh criticism of the movement that has ruled
Gaza since June 2007 came in response to new taxes that the
Hamas-run government says are necessary to address a financial
"crisis."

"The pressure that Hamas forces are exerting in Gaza
undermine the idea of improving the steadfastness of our
people, who are already exhausted," the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said.
"The increase in pressure and burdens on our citizens in
this miserable economic and social reality will give rise to
problems and social maladies and will push the youth towards
emigration.

"It may push society to rebel against these behaviours,
but the explosion will be in the face of the perpetrators," it
said.

In recent weeks Hamas has started collecting taxes on a
wide range of goods and services, including imposing a tax of
up to 30 per cent on cigarettes.

The territory of 1.5 million people has been sealed off
from all but basic goods since Israel and Egypt tightened
border closures following Hamas`s bloody seizure of power
nearly three years ago.
The economy has largely collapsed and most consumer goods
are smuggled in through tunnels beneath the border with Egypt.

Local bank branches in Gaza boycott the Hamas-run
government because it is considered a terrorist organisation
by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Earlier this month, Hamas MP Jamal Nassar said that,
combined with the Egyptian barrier, has caused a financial
"crisis" for the government.

The closures had never previously appeared to have much
of an effect on Hamas, which has regularly paid the salaries
of some 20,000 civil servants and security forces since it
seized power.

Hamas has always been tight-lipped about its financial
dealings but is believed to receive considerable aid from
Islamic charities, Syria and Iran.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 23:34

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