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Hamas bans Gaza New Year’s Eve parties

GAZA CITY: Islamist group Hamas has banned public New Year’s Eve parties in the Gaza Strip because they offend the territory’s “values and religious traditions”, police said on Wednesday.

“The interior ministry and police department did not give permits to any restaurants, hotels or halls for end-of-year parties” after several venues requested permission, police spokesman Ayman al-Batinji told AFP.

He said New Year’s Eve celebrations were “incompatible with our customs, traditions, values and the teachings of our religion”.

Parties had also been curtailed in “solidarity with the families of the martyrs of the Jerusalem intifada,” Batinji said, referring to violence that has swept the city and parts of the West Bank in recent months.

In previous years restaurants, hotels and cafes in Gaza were allowed to host closed events to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

The new year under the Islamic calendar began this year in October, but the new year under the Gregorian calendar is widely celebrated across the Arab world.

Islamists Hamas tightly restrict public parties and celebrations in Gaza.

A source close to the police said security forces would close down “any unlicensed party”.

Gaza, a tiny enclave of 362 square kilometres (about 225 square miles) squeezed between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, is home to some 1.8 million Palestinians — one of the highest population densities in the world.

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