Hamas orders gender segregation at younger age

Gaza's Hamas-controlled parliament has passed a law requiring separate classes for boys and girls in public and private schools from the fourth grade.

Currently, boys and girls are separated in grade seven in public schools, and private schools can set their own rules.

The new law constitutes the most far-reaching attempt yet by Gaza's Hamas rulers to impose their ultra-conservative social agenda on Gaza's 1.7 million people. In nearly six years in power, Hamas has moved gradually, imposing some changes, such as banning women from smoking water pipes in public, but has rescinded decrees or stopped enforcing them if the public resisted.

The education law, announced Monday, also bars male teachers from teaching in girls' schools. It will go effect at the start of the new school year in September.