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GAZA - The Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip have ordered lingerie shops to display more modesty. A week after banning women from smoking water pipes in public places, the Hamas-run police force has told stores selling women's underwear to remove scantily-clad mannequins and any posters of racy undergarments.

"These measures have stemmed from complaints and pressure by ordinary people. They have to do with upholding our traditions," police spokesman Ayman Al-Batniji said yesterday.

Hamas leaders have repeatedly denied any intention to impose Islamic law on the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians.

But Hamas police have broken up a hip-hop concert in the territory and tried - unsuccessfully - to force women lawyers in court and female school students to wear traditional Muslim clothing, a step that drew a public backlash.

Hamas' modesty moves were widely seen by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as attempts to mollify more conservative Islamic factions that have accused the movement of failing to uphold Islamic Sharia law.