Dec. 31, 2015
On December 30, 2015, Hamas’ police force announced a ban on holding New Year celebrations in restaurants, hotels and cafes in the Gaza Strip. Police spokesman Ayman al-Batniji explained that the ban was “meant to minimize as far as possible phenomena that contravene the heritage, customs, values and directives of Islam” and also to demonstrate solidarity with the martyrs of the “Al-Quds intifada” by avoiding celebrations. He condemned those who “are planning new year celebrations at a time when the Palestinian people are enduring hardship, a suffocating siege, and the death of martyrs in the intifada.”
Gaza restaurateurs expressed displeasure at the ban due to the financial loss it will cause them, especially considering that Hamas recently raised taxes on restaurants. The ban also evoked harsh criticism from Gaza residents, who voiced their complaints on social media, and also from public figures, such as a member of the Palestinian People’s Party who advised the Hamas members to put aside their cars and start riding donkeys instead.
The following are examples of criticism leveled at Hamas for this decision.