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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 July 2007, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Hamas starts payment of salaries
Hamas Executive Force on traffic duty in Gaza
Hamas took over Gaza by force in mid-June
The Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas has begun paying the overdue wages of more than 10,000 civil servants and members of the security forces.

Most of the employees were hired by the former Hamas government.

That government was dismissed by President Mahmoud Abbas after Hamas militants seized control of Gaza's security apparatus last month.

Meanwhile, Israel has reportedly agreed to allow hundreds of Palestinians stranded in Egypt to pass into Gaza.

The 10,000 employees who are now being paid had been excluded from payments authorised by the new government established by Mr Abbas in the West Bank last month.

Mr Abbas leads the rival Fatah faction, whose forces in Gaza were routed in June by Hamas in bloody battles.

Hamas has refused to recognise the new government, saying it is illegal and unconstitutional.

Correspondents say the payments to the civil servants mark a further step toward entrenching two separate Palestinian governments.

Alternative crossing

Six thousand Palestinians have been waiting in the Egyptian border town of Rafah since the crossing into Gaza was closed on 9 June.

The crossing is jointly controlled by Egypt, Israel, the Palestinians, and overseen by European monitors.

Hamas has demanded partial control of the terminal there since its violent takeover of Gaza, but Israel and Egypt have refused.

A small, alternative crossing from Israel will reportedly be used by an initial group of about 600 Palestinians who officials in the West Bank say are being allowed access to Gaza in the next few days.




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