Was it a mistake before it was noticed by outsiders? One would think, in any case, that Fatah would stop being a target of U.S. affections by dint of its sheer incompetence if nothing else, but no such luck.
The Palestinian Authority has accidentally paid the salaries of 3,000 members of Hamas’s main security force.
According to the Fatah-run Palestinian information ministry, 3,000 members of its rival’s Executive Force were paid before the mistake was noticed.
The payments were halted and most were reversed, Fatah officials say. But reports say hundreds of Hamas men were able to cash their salary cheques.
Hamas took over Gaza in mid-June, its Executive Force routing Fatah’s forces.
This has left the Palestinian territories split and under the control of the rival factions – Hamas in Gaza, and Fatah in the parts of the West Bank not controlled by Israel.
Israel and the international community has backed Palestinian Authority President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, while increasing the isolation of Hamas and completely cutting off Gaza and its 1.5 million residents.
Mr Abbas is refusing to engage in any kind of talks with Hamas.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by much of the international community which refuses to deal with it directly until it recognises Israel and renounces violence.
‘Rushing to the bank’
A Hamas official in Gaza told the Reuters news agency that members of the Executive Force were contacted on Wednesday and told their salaries had been paid.
“To their surprise, they got phone calls telling them to collect their salaries. They rushed to the bank,” the official said.