Hamas says controversial Gaza travel rules will be 'reviewed'

Hamas says controversial Gaza travel rules will be 'reviewed' following outrage
2 min read
17 February, 2021
After critics accused Hamas of attempting to roll back women's rights, the ruling authority said it would review a controversial travels edict.
The controversial law targeted women [Getty]
Gaza’s ruling authorities said judicial authorities would review a controversial edict giving parents and guardians power to block adult children or dependants from travelling.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, on Wednesday said it was happy the ruling from the Supreme Sharia (Islamic law) Council in Gaza was being rephrased "to avoid confusion.

The ruling, circulated on Sunday, allows "males over the age of 18 to be banned from travelling by court order, based on the wishes of the father or grandfather."

It also bans "virgin, widowed or divorced women from travelling without permission from a guardian".

Hamas said provisions regarding single women had "been misunderstood as a total travel ban" and will be “amended."

Israel has maintained a tight land, air and sea blockade on Gaza since Hamas took power in the enclave in 2007, while Egypt restricts movement through the Rafah crossing that connects it to the strip.

The edit was widely condemned by rights groups and diplomats.

Women's rights activist Zainab al-Ghunaimi said the ruling violates the Palestinian basic law which guarantees equal rights.

Read also: Hamas court rules women need male guardian to travel outside Gaza Strip

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said: “It’s bad enough that Israeli and Egyptian policies have trapped Palestinians in Gaza for far too many years.”

Despite the latest updates, the head of Gaza's supreme judicial council dismissed criticism of the ruling when it was first announced as "artificial and unjustified noise".

Requiring permission to travel from a male guardian is "consistent" with Islamic and civil laws, Hassan al-Jojo told The Associated Press.

Hamas has been accused of curtailing women's rights in the Gaza Strip ever since it took power there in 2007 following a conflict with rival Palestinian group Fatah.

The group has mandated that women wear the Islamic headscarf in municipal buildings, courts and high schools.

Women in Gaza have also been banned from smoking shisha pipes in public. Hamas has also attempted to impose bans on women receiving salon treatment from male hairdressers, for example, as well as other restrictions with varying degrees of success.

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