Hamas police have broken up the Gaza Strip's first major hip-hop concert.

The B Boy Gaza group had just started a lively dance set late on Saturday in a crowded auditorium when police from the Islamist Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip ended the performance with shouts of "the show is over", witnesses said.

"I told one of the policemen that rap meant respect for all people, but he didn't seem to be listening. He said it was an immoral dance," one of the dancers said.

Hamas officials said the performance, in a conservative enclave where most musical shows strike a nationalistic note, was shut down only because organizers had not applied for a police permit for the gathering.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said police confiscated cameras and tapes at the venue and arrested six of the performers. They were released after signing a pledge not to hold further performances without police permission.

Hamas has denied accusations by Gaza human rights groups that it is trying to impose Islamic law in the enclave where 1.5 million Palestinians live. In public speeches, Hamas leaders have urged Palestinians to adhere to Islamic values.