The Gaza government has decided to impose Islamic clothing on female students at the Strip's governmental schools and has banned men from teaching at girls' schools.
The school year in Gaza's governmental schools kicked off on Sunday, one week before the official date, with some 250,000 students at governmental schools and 200,000 students at United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools.
Girls studying at government schools were required to wear Islamic clothes, comprised of a ghalabia (traditional Arabic garment) and a head cover. The Strip's education ministry even ruled that the ghalabia must be dark blue and the head cover must be white.
The ministry also ruled that only female teachers would be allowed to teach in the government schools.
These decisions sparked a row in Gaza, with Hamas' rivals defining them as a further step towards an Islamization of the Strip, after Islamic clothing has also been imposed on female lawyers during court sessions. Despite the protest, reports from Gaza reveal that all women arriving at the courts are obeying the new order.
Female students in the Strip claim that the new order is failing its purpose and that forcing such clothing does not mean it is being accepted out of faith and conviction.
Sources in the Strip have reported that some parents are considering removing their daughters from the governmental schools, and that financial considerations are the only thing preventing a huge rush to private schools.
Taher al-Nunu, a spokesman for the Hamas-run government in Gaza, said in response that the decision to cancel the school uniform was aimed at easing the parent's financial situation. Hamas sources claimed that the decision on Islamic clothing was not a matter of coercion, but rather a matter of adjusting to the traditional Muslim society.
Sources in the Strip's organizations told Ynet they did not foresee a protest against Hamas' decisions, adding that the decision had many supporters.