GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – There are few pleasures left for Gaza’s 1.5 million people, squeezed by both a blockade and Hamas efforts to impose its strict Muslim lifestyle. And women here just lost another one.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers have banned women from smoking water pipes in cafes, sending plainclothes agents through popular beachside spots Sunday to enforce the edict. Some women in the Palestinian territory are grumbling.
“This is silly,” said Haya Ahmed, a 29-year-old accountant who said she has smoked water pipes for 10 years. “We are not smoking in the streets but in restaurants, where only a few people can enter.”
She predicted the ban would actually make water pipes more tempting for rebellious young women. “Everything forbidden becomes desirable. The decision will lead to more smokers,” Ahmed said.