Hamas is lobbying for a stricter enforcement of Islamic law in Gaza – including provisions to cut off the hands of thieves, and execution of individuals who cheat on their spouses. A report in the Al-Hayat daily newspaper said that Hamas expects the new regulations to take effect in the coming months, after introduction of the legislation in the PA parliament.
Existing laws mete out the death penalty to individuals convicted of murder, spying, homosexuality, or selling land to Jews. The new legislation will expand the crimes for which individuals can be executed to include disloyalty to a spouse – having sexual relations outside the context of marriage. Other provisions of the law include chopping off the right hand of a thief (along with at least a seven year jail sentence), and lashes for a large number of “crimes,” including drinking alcoholic beverages and gambling. All the punishments are derived from sharia, Islamic law.
In addition, girls age 15 will be able to decide to marry on their own, without requiring permission from their parents. Individuals age ten and over are considered adults under the new legislation, and are subject to the full force of the law for offenses.
Hamas has a large majority in the PA parliament, with 74 of the 134 parliamentarians belonging to the Islamist party. Many of them belong to the fundamentalist Salafist movement, and they are behind the push for the new laws. While there is opposition in Hamas to the passage of the legislation at this point, it is expected to easily pass. Once it does, the laws will be extant in both Gaza and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, but it is not clear if they will be enforced there.