Research by Israel’s Security Agency has revealed that Hamas is continuing its efforts to gradually impose an Islamization process on the residents of the Gaza Strip, in order to turn it into a state governed by Islamic religious law.
The study shows that Hamas is making sure to do this gradually in order to avoid a stir up by the Strip’s residents. It is also uses modern tools such as the internet in order to advance the process. This is exemplified by an increasing use of the internet for religious purpose, first and foremost for the purpose of Da‘wah (the Islamic equivalent of missionary activity, or inviting people to understand Islam through dialogue). Media outlets in Gaza have also reported that students in Gaza are increasingly using internet discussion forums to discuss Islamic and religious issues.
Aside from the internet, print media is also used for the Islamization process. This is usually done by means of a column dealing with issues pertaining to Islam. One example of this can be found in the journal Palestine, in which a female reader asks whether she is always required to wear a veil. In response, a member of the Palestinian Clerics Association says that the woman must always wear a veil if required to do so by her husband, since doing otherwise would jeopardize her marriage.
The education program in Gaza’s schools has also changed to accommodate Hamas’ Islamist policy, said the report. Previously, the school systems had used a curriculum based in Egypt; however, Hamas has introduced a new curriculum which is designed “in the spirit of the national Palestinian project,” according to sources in the Strip’s Education Ministry quoted in the report.
The report also reveals that following last May’s attack by terrorists on a beachside children’s camp operated by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency's (UNRWA), Hamas recommended that UNRWA examine the curriculum taught in its schools and adapt it to Arab society, as well as reconsider the hiring of female teachers to work in boys’ schools. Thus, Hamas hinted that UNRWA was also partially responsible for the incident, and that it should change its policies in order to avoid such incidents from happening again.
Finally, the report says that Hamas is using PA clerics in the Islamization process by enlisting them to support the death penalty which Hamas has begun to recently implement. The result that is achieved is clerics who argue in favor of Hamas that the death penalty creates a deterrent and distances criminals from the ranks of society. Some clerics have gone so far as to declare the Hamas government led by Ismail Haniya as more ethical and as “fulfilling the will of god” through its implementation of the death penalty.
A study by the ISA last November came up with similar conclusions. That report found that, among other things, Hamas had implemented a dress code for women on the street, in schools and in courts is enforced; men may not swim in the ocean without a shirt, and female mannequins may not be exhibited in store windows; mixed-gender public ceremonies may not be held, and men may not teach in girls’ schools.