UN workers’ strike interrupts Gaza schools, clinics and services

Palestinian employees of the biggest United Nations relief agency in the Gaza Strip have started a two- day general strike Wednesday, protesting the firing of three local staff.

About 11,500 UN Relief and Works Agency stopped reporting to schools, clinics, food distribution centers and other service facilities in the coastal enclave Wednesday.

Nearly 220,000 students did not attend school Wednesday and 25 medical centers were halted. Refugees, making two thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, will not be benefited from food rations for two days due to the strike.

Suhail Al-Hendi, the president of UNRWA’s local staff union, said that the international agency has “arbitrary” fired a teacher and two public service workers.

The three were arrested in separate incidents involving family trouble, drug’s possession and armed clashes between Gaza’s Hamas forces and Muslim extremists in 2009.

The union says that the Palestinian judiciary found the three UNRWA staff not guilty and they were released soon after their arrest, but the agency has insisted on its decision and took a final decision to lay them off earlier this week.

UNRWA officials declined from commenting on the strike.

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