The man she walked with and two of his peers were detained, beaten and ordered to sign statements promising not to engage in immoral activities, said the woman and one of the men.
The incident was the first known case of Hamas openly trying to punish a woman for behaving in a way it views as un-Islamic since seizing power two years ago. But it follows months of quiet pressure on Gaza's overwhelmingly conservative 1.4 million residents to abide by its strict religious mores.
Hamas officials in Gaza have publicly urged shopkeepers to take down foreign advertisements showing the shape of women's bodies and to stash away lingerie often displayed in windows. Officials search electronic shops to check if they are selling pornography on tiny flash drives.
"There's an open, public program to preserve public morals in Gaza," said local rights activist Isam Younis. "In reality that means trying to restrict freedoms."
Hamas denies any crackdown is under way. Since taking power, it has said it would only try to lead by example and not impose its views on anyone.
However, the group has taken no public action against small, shadowy groups that have attacked perceived hotbeds of Western immorality, such as hairdressers and Internet cafes, fueling criticism that it has not been tough enough on hard-line Muslim groups.
Now all indications are this is an isolated incident. But that's not clear.
These things I know:
A Gazan-Canadian girlfriend, whose mother was able to wear miniskirts and sleeveless tops back in the 70s, told me that, when she returned to Gaza a few years ago, no woman stepped out uncovered. Not in full niqab or anything, but with long sleeves and headscarves. This was before Hamas won the election, by the way.
This Islamistization was to be expected, of course.
It seems to be the knee-jerk reaction in Muslim countries where there is a sense of powerlessness among the people. We saw it happen in Iran after 1979, for example, and now it's happening in Iraq. When democracy leaves, religion and nationalism -- two elements of fundamentalism -- step into the breech.
The other thing that must be said is, and this relates more to religion and themes I have already touched on, women always end up at the bottom of the food chain. When men feel powerless, when they feel weak, they become bullies. This happens in schoolyards and it happens behind closed doors in many homes -- and it obviously happens in entire societies.
It takes a strong and confident man to accept women as equals.
This does not bode well at all for Gazan women, whose rights have been eroded since 1967. (For the record, the Palestinian National Authority had been ''in charge'' during the15 years leading up to Hamas' takeover.)
For those who want to blame Islam as a religion, think again. Gazans were mostly Muslim before they were an occupied people -- and, according my friend and a prominent Gazan feminist, this sort of thing did not happen.
Every action has a reaction.
Too often women pay the price.
The painting is Hendrickje Bathing by Rembrandt.