Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers have banned public New Year’s Eve parties in the region because they offend the territory’s “values and religious traditions”, AFP reported Wednesday.
“The interior ministry and police department did not give permits to any restaurants, hotels or halls for end-of-year parties” after several venues requested permission, police spokesperson Ayman al-Batinji told the news agency.
He said New Year’s Eve celebrations were “incompatible with our customs, traditions, values and the teachings of our religion”.
Parties had also been curtailed in “solidarity with the families of the martyrs of the Jerusalem intifada,” Batinji said, referring to the recent terrorist wave, which Hamas has referred to as the “Al-Quds Intifada”.
In previous years restaurants, hotels and cafes in Gaza were allowed to host closed events to celebrate New Year’s Eve but, as AFP noted, Hamas tightly restricts public parties and celebrations in Gaza.
A source close to the police said, however, that security forces would close down “any unlicensed party”.
Hamas has enforced a stringent interpretation of Islamic law in Gaza since violently taking power there in 2007.
The group has banned women and teenagers from smoking hookahs in public, ordered that women's clothing stores are not allowed to have dressing rooms, men cannot have hairdressing salons for women and that mannequins shaped like women must be dressed in modest clothing.
The group also introduced a strict dress code for female university students, demanding that they wear “modest clothing” and has also passed a law stipulating that lashes can be given as punishment for certain offences.
Despite Hamas’s moves, however, the extremist Salafists in Gaza say that the group is not strict enough for their liking. The Salafists hope to wrest control of Gaza from Hamas and install a Sharia-bound regime instead.