- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In a largely symbolic move, the governing body of the Gaza Strip introduced a new law banning the integration of male and female children in schools over the age of 9.

According to the BBC, almost all schools in Gaza are already segregated at that age. The law appears largely to be aimed at asserting Hamas’s Islamist credentials.

The majority of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank accept segregated education as part of their culture, a BBC correspondent said.

It is not clear if the new legislation will be enforced, but it will likely receive little opposition, BBC reports. It will also allow Hamas to stamp out criticism from more conservative Islamists who believe the government is too lenient. Hamas has passed similar laws for that very reason, including banning men from cutting women’s hair and forbidding women from smoking water pipes.