Hamas enforces ban on women smoking water pipes
Hamas police ordered a Gaza hotel restaurant closed on Wednesday for allowing a woman to smoke a water pipe on its premises, one of its owners said.
It was believed to be the first time that Hamas Islamists who run the Gaza Strip have enforced their ban, announced in July, on women smoking the traditional tobacco-infused pipes in public.
“They acted as if they caught her red-handed committing a crime,” the hotel’s co-owner said of the encounter between Hamas police and the woman.
The man, who asked not to be identified, said the police “accused us of violating tradition and Islamic values” and ordered the hotel closed for three days. The order was later amended to cover only its restaurant.
A Hamas police spokesman denied the closure stemmed from a violation of the water pipe ban but said the hotels’ owners “committed some violations”, which he did not detail.
The water pipe ban has drawn criticism from human rights groups, which have accused Hamas of limiting public freedoms. Hamas leaders have denied any intention to impose Islamic law in the territory. (Writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi)
Closing of tourist places in Gaza for non-compliance with Islamic customs
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is gravely concerned over the unjustified intervention of the Ministry of Interior into public freedoms, closing a number of tourist places in Gaza City, imposing restrictions on their work and arresting one of these places’ owners under the pretext of gender mixture and non-compliance with the Islamic customs. PCHR calls upon the government in Gaza to take all necessary measures to ensure and respect public freedoms which are constitutionally guaranteed under relevant international standards.
Israeli and West Bank women risk jail for day at the beach
The day starts early, at a petrol station alongside a roaring Jerusalem road. The mood among the 15 Israeli women is a little tense, but it’s hardly surprising – they’re about to break the law and with it one of the country’s taboos. They plan to drive into the occupied West Bank, pick up Palestinian women and children and take them on a day trip to Tel Aviv.Today’s is the second such trip – another group of women went public with a similar action last month. It is hoped that these will become regular outings, designed to create awareness of the laws that govern movement for Palestinians, and to challenge the fears that Israelis have about travelling into the West Bank.