More beards, less talk about politics: Gazans adjusting to Hamas rule in many subtle ways
There are no signs yet of Hamas trying to impose strict Islamic rule.

Even before the takeover, Gaza had become increasingly conservative, a response to grinding poverty, isolation and bloody fighting with Israel. The vast majority of women wear headscarves and growing numbers even put on face veils, unheard of in the Palestinian territories a generation ago.

Ibrahim Ibrach, a political analyst, said Hamas wants to cement its rule, not alienate Gazans with draconian measures. This could change, he said, if Gaza’s isolation continues for a long time.

Mosque preacher Khalil Yassin said distrust of Hamas is undeserved and that the movement would never use force to spread its beliefs. “The problem is people don’t understand Hamas well,” he said, sitting in the shade on the beach, next to his wife, who was covered from head to toe. Nearby, 30 young men from his mosque were splashing in the water, some floating with a huge Hamas flag.

“We have total conviction that God is on our side,” Yassin added.

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