Palestinian militant group Hamas has banned dog walking through the Gaza Strip to “protect our women and children”.
The Islamist organisation, which controls the coastal enclave, will force dog owners to keep their pets indoors as temperatures rise to more than thirty degrees in the summer heat.
Officials claim the clampdown is a response to a rise in dog walking through the streets, which they say is “against culture and traditions in Gaza”.
Pet owners could be forced to sign agreements not to walk their dogs under the ban, which has effect in busy areas such as markets and beaches.
Police spokesman Ayman al-Batniji said no penalty has been specified, and assured dog owners they can still walk their animals through fields in the countryside.
He told The Telegraph: “In recent weeks, the phenomenon of young men walking with their dogs in the streets has widely spread.
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“It is neither of our culture nor of our traditions….we are not against dogs, we use dogs in our work – the ban is simply to protect our women and children.”
Dog ownership is said to have risen in Gaza in recent years, though some Islamic clerics consider the animals to be unclean and forbidden.
Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2007 and has carried out hundreds of armed attacks in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories since it was founded three decades ago.
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