Ramallah: A move by Hamas to replace an almost 80-year old punitive law with a new conservative one has been condemned by Palestinian factions.

The Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), along with several other Palestinian factions, have labelled the move as an attempt to impose Hamas’ conservative agenda on the whole of Palestinian society.

Faraj Al Ghoul, the head of the Legal Department at the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza, recently announced that the Palestinian parliament in Gaza will impose a new punitive law to replace Law No 74 for the year 1936.

“Hamas’ attempts to pass its new punitive law in Gaza are illegal as the Palestinian Legislative Council’s term has already expired and is therefore not authorised to issue such a law,” the PFLP statement said, pointing out that the law that was passed by a parliament dominated entirely by Hamas.

“The new law will harm the interests of the Palestinians and perpetuate the Palestinian internal split. Hamas must retreat and show priority and preference to the higher Palestinian interests,” it went on to say.

Hamas claims that the new proposed law aims at eliminating crimes and deterring criminals in Gaza.

“Hamas does not and cannot see that development will allow for the achieving of this goal, especially given the tough and deteriorating social and economic circumstances under which Palestinians live in Gaza,” the PFLP said.

“The ruling Hamas in Gaza had failed for eight consecutive years to resolve the continuous crisis of the Gaza Strip, which includes ever-growing poverty and spreading unemployment and the delay of payment of the public workers,” the PFLP statement said.

A senior Hamas official told Gulf News that the Gaza Strip and Palestine in general need a new punitive law to replace the old and “impractical” one. He said that the spread of crime is the reason the new punitive law “which is inspired by” Sharia has been drafted.

Sharia allows for lashings, executions and punishments such as cutting off the hand of a thief.

The law stipulates a minimum of 20 lashes for a minor offense, with the number of lashes increasing with the seriousness of the offense. A minimum of 80 lashes is to be imposed in criminal cases. The law also widens the use of the death penalty as per Sharia. Articles No 289, and 290 of the proposed law stipulate the cutting off of the hand of a thief and a minimum of seven years in jail in case the criminal repeats his crime.

The PFLP said that a new punitive law should be purely civil in nature and based on rules and regulations that are compatible with modern life.

“Penalties like lashing are not compatible with Palestinian society, which is a multicultural society,” the statement said.

The PFLP said that the need for new laws should be motivated by the need to achieve internal reconciliation and that all the Palestinian factions could come together to discuss and impose a new punitive law together.

“This is the only possible way to make new laws in the Gaza Strip and the only way to fight and be rid of the deepening social and economic crisis in Palestine,” the statement added.