A top spiritual leader in the Palestinian territory of Gaza told a television audience last week how and when men can beat their wives, advising not to hit them in a way that “makes the face ugly.”

The shocking interview with Hassan Al-Laham, who holds the title “mufti of Gaza,” came during a weekly Palestinian Authority TV program on social issues. Explaining that divorce must be a last resort in Islam, Al-Laham laid out the four steps that should come first.

"Allah said: Warn them [the wives], and separate from them, and hit them, and bring an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her family," he said.

Al-Laham, whose title makes him the top spiritual leader appointed by the Palestinian Authority, then went into detail about how a husband should hit a wife.

"Not hitting that will bring the police, and break her hand and cause bleeding, or hitting that makes the face ugly," he said.

The hitting should "be like a joke," even reinforcing "the love and friendship" between the couple, he said.

The segment was flagged by the nonprofit watchdog Palestinian Media Watch. Director Itamar Marcus noted that the Palestinian Authority, which appointed Al-Laham and is responsible for the television programming which is beamed by satellite throughout the Arab world, is viewed as more moderate than Hamas, the terrorist group that governs Gaza.

“They actually think this is a moderate message – that it is okay to beat your wife,” Marcus told FoxNews.com. “This is their perception.”