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Hamas to review edict requiring women to get guardian’s approval for travel

Gaza-ruling Islamist terror group says Sharia court is amending the controversial decision to ‘avoid confusion’

A mask-clad Palestinian woman and a boy wait with luggage at the Rafah border crossing's departure area to travel from the Gaza Strip into Egypt, on February 9, 2021. (Said Khatib/AFP)
A mask-clad Palestinian woman and a boy wait with luggage at the Rafah border crossing's departure area to travel from the Gaza Strip into Egypt, on February 9, 2021. (Said Khatib/AFP)

The Islamist terror group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said Wednesday judicial authorities would review a controversial edict giving parents and guardians power to block adult children or defendants from traveling.

The ruling, circulated Sunday from the Supreme Sharia (Islamic law) Council in Gaza, allows “males over the age of 18 to be banned from traveling by court order, based on the wishes of the father or grandfather.”

It also bans “virgin, widowed or divorced women from traveling without permission from a guardian.”

On Wednesday, Hamas said it was “happy” the Sharia council had decided to rephrase the edict “to avoid confusion.”

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

Israel has maintained a tight 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. Israel says the restrictions are needed to isolate Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel, and prevent it from acquiring arms.

The edict was widely condemned by rights groups and diplomats.

Hamas has not imposed the kind of harsh interpretation of Islamic law championed by other armed groups, such as the Islamic State jihadist group and the Taliban in Afghanistan. But it has taken some limited steps to enforce the territory’s conservative mores, including the imposition of an Islamic dress code on female lawyers and high school students.

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