The ministry of education of the Islamic Resistance Movement HAMAS, who has been in control of the Palestinian Gaza Strip since the summer of 2006 issued a new decree that imposes gender segregation in the classrooms for pupils from age nine and above. This decree also prohibits male teachers from teaching in female schools. The new regulations apply to all public and private schools, including those administered by the United Nations Relief Works Agency UNRWA and the Christian schools as well.
It is important to point out that Number nine is the Magic number for Islamic Salafi and Wahhabi movements. They believe that girls reach their puberty at this age. They are inspired in their firm belief by their conviction that Prophet Muhammad married his wife Aisha when she was nine years old. To them it means that the prophet’s marriage could not have been possible unless she had already reached her puberty.
HAMAS won a majority of seats in the Palestinian legislative Assembly in the Palestinian elections of January of 2006. Their victory was seen by most observers as a result of the protest votes of those who were frustrated by the lack of progress in peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and some rumors of corruption and scandals. However, this movement was forced out of power by biting economic sanctions imposed on the Palestinians by the United States and the European Community. Since then, HAMAS retreated to the Gaza Strip and took control over there. palestinian critics accuse HAMAS of imposing its values on the whole society. HAMAS maintains that it is only trying to codify the conservative Palestinian customs and incorporate them in the legal system.