Hamas shutters Jawwal offices amid claims of unpaid taxes

1 Jul 2015

The Hamas-appointed attorney general in the Gaza Strip has reportedly closed the offices belonging to the region’s sole official mobile network operator, Palestine Cellular Telecommunications Company (Palcel), which offers services under the Jawwal banner. According to Lebanon’s Daily Star, the move comes amid claims by Hamas that Jawwal, which is a subsidiary of Palestinian fixed line incumbent Paltel, has not paid its taxes, with police having been deployed outside the firm’s headquarters. Paltel executives have, however, rejected these accusations, stating that all relevant taxes have been paid to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, where the company is both based and registered. Further, Paltel chief executive Ammar Aker was cited as saying that it was not possible to separate tax filings between the two territories, claiming that to do so would fuel division and ‘may expose national economic institutions that work within an international system to questions and sanctions that may result in grave damage.’ In the face of the enforced office closure, Paltel also revealed that it was closing its offices in Gaza in solidarity.

Meanwhile, although the Jawwal offices have been closed, mobile subscribers in the Gaza Strip are understood to still be able to access their services, though it reportedly remains unclear for how long this may be the case.