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Hamas warns civil servants of cash problems; Military 'stronger'

GAZA CITY — The Hamas regime has warned tens of thousands of civil servants of hard economic times in 2011.


Officials said Hamas, despite massive support from Iran, would face a budget shortfall in 2011. They said Hamas did not expect to cover its monthly budget of $25 million to pay its 34,000 civil servants.

"It's really difficult to provide that," Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said.

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In an address to Hamas teachers in Gaza City, Haniyeh said the Islamic regime was not receiving assistance from the West, Middle East Newsline reported. He did not cite Iranian assistance, said to comprise the largest element in the governmental budget.

At the same time, Hamas has reported an increase in military power. Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif said the Islamic forces were "harder and more powerful."

"We are now stronger than before or during the war, and our silence over the past two years was only to evaluate the situation," Hamas military spokesman Abu Obeida said on Dec. 25. "We won't face the current attempts of the enemy to escalate the situation with silence."

Haniyeh said on Dec. 23 that Hamas required $25 million per month to fund civil service. He said this included the security forces, reported at about 20,000.

"They [civil servants] now number some 34,000 people," Haniyeh said.

In 2010, Hamas suspended or reduced civil service salaries for the first half of the year. By June, officials said Hamas received sufficient aid as well as tax revenue to pay police and other government employees.

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