Hamas has banned Gazans from taking part in “New Star” – a televised singing contest along the lines of “X-Factor,” organizers said. Raed Othman, director of Maan, the company that co-produces “New Star,” told AFP he received an official message from Hamas’ Information Ministry “halting the show because it violates our customs and traditions.” The popular reality show, which had already completed two successful seasons with the participation of Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, began recruiting contestants for its third season last month. “About a month ago, we brought together around 130 boys and one girl in Gaza and they sang. A special jury watching via videoconference picked 13 of them,” Othman said. “We were in contact with the Hamas government’s Information Ministry and prepared a place for auditions to pick the best contestants from the 13,” he added. “But then we got the official communication ... saying the program was being shut down because it runs contrary to customs and traditions.” Hamas refused to comment directly on the participation of Gaza residents in the show, but top ministry official Mohammad Abu Hashish issued a long statement criticizing Maan. “While we provide Maan with all the freedom, protection, information, recognition and measures they need to operate freely,” he said, “every day we find them doing harm to the Gaza Strip, the government and our daily life.” The first two seasons of “New Star,” produced by Maan and Arab-Israeli television channel Mix, brought together Palestinians from across the Occupied Territories as well as Arab Israelis. The television show garnered impressive ratings in the territories and among Arab Israelis, according to its producers.