Palestinian boys and girls in Gaza will be educated at separate schools if a new law proposed by Hamas comes into force.
Hamas has decided that children aged over nine years old should be educated at different schools however, with the exception of a number of private and United Nations sponsored schools in the isolated territory, most older children are already educated in single-sex schools.
The announcement is a further indication of Hamas flexing its muscles and insisting on ruling Gaza in a way consistent with its interpretation of Islam. Last month, the United Nations said that it would cancel the running of the annual Gaza marathon after Hamas announced that women would not be allowed to take part. Hamas said it was happy for the race to go ahead, but only if what it described as “local traditions,” were observed.
Despite the marathon not taking place, Hamas does have a record of not enforcing pronouncements on women’s role in society. It rarely acts when women smoke the popular shisha water pipes, despite publicly banning their use by females.
The issue of education is fraught in the Middle East. Both Israelis and Palestinians accuse the other of teaching their children a distorted version of history and geography.
Last month it was also reported that children at Hamas-sponsored schools were also being offered voluntary weapons training. When they turn 18, children in Gaza are eligible to join the military wing of Hamas.
“We are in an occupied country and always need to teach our children how to protect the nation using all means available to us,” Lieutenant Mohammed al-Seiqali, who is head of weapons training in a school in Khan Younis in the south of Gaza, told Al Arabiya television.