The Palestinian Authority has suspended plans to force more than 6,000 of its employees in the Gaza Strip into early retirement, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said on Saturday.
The move was announced last month and seen as the latest attempt to squeeze the Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza.
Many of the workers are in the health and education ministries, and aid officials are very concerned about the implications for the two million inhabitants of the impoverished coastal territory.
“We decided, in consultation with President Mahmoud Abbas, to allow education and health employees who were recently (asked) to retire early to continue their work in the ministry,” a statement from Hamdallah on the official Palestinian news agency Wafa said.
It did not say whether all 6,150 employees would now be kept on, but said the decision had been taken to “ensure the provision of services to citizens in the strip”.
After Hamas seized the enclave in a near civil war in 2007, the PA continued to pay its former civil servants regular salaries but earlier this year reduced them.
The PA, based in the West Bank, is dominated by the Abbas’s Fatah movement, a fierce rival of Hamas.
Multiple attempts at reconciliation have failed, and Abbas has sought to weaken the Islamists in recent months.
Hamas had strongly opposed the planned forced retirements.
In April, the PA stopped paying Israel for electricity to be supplied to Gaza, leaving the strip with just two hours of power a day until Egypt offered some fuel as aid.