Palestinian faction warns of `explosion` over Hamas taxes
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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.


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

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