GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The Gaza government's ministry of communications announced on Thursday it would block access to pornographic websites starting in September.
Ministry licensing head Kamal al-Masr said they the authorities had asked the 10 main Internet providers operating in Gaza to block the sites from Sept. 1, after a government decision a week earlier.
Any violations of the decision will be punished under Palestinian communications and penal law, he added.
In 2008, the Gaza government announced the Palestinian telecommunications provider would begin blocking adult content.
Testing by the Canada- and US-based university coalition Open Net Initiative shortly afterward showed PalTel had implemented filtering of sexually explicit websites in Gaza.
But al-Masr said the government was only now responding to complaints from parents and teachers. He stressed that the ministry itself is not blocking the sites, but asking ISPs to implement safe content standards used "internationally".
In late April the Palestinian Authority was found to have blocked access to nine websites critical of the president. The filtering plan was reversed in early May.
This is not the first time that the Hamas government carries out controversial decisions that infringe upon individual freedoms. In the past Gazan women were prevented from smoking hookahs in public or ride on motorcycles. The Hamas police have even arrested women caught breaking the laws.
Second photo shows the Gaza ministry's ban notice
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