The Rough Guide to Gaza City


We aren't allowed to smoke in bars, to puff on those disgusting clove cigarettes, to call them "lights" or "mediums" or "mild," nor can we advertise them anywhere, lest kids want to emulate a tuxedo-wearing camel. No one really noticed when it all changed, except the endless flood of people who thanked the government because their "clothes no longer smell like smoke" when returning from a bar (Non-government solution: Wash your clothes before wearing them again). Now, it would be unfair to compare the fun-destroying Bloombergians with Hamas—I wouldn't dare—but, seeing the success of smoking bans across the United States and Europe, the coup-mongers in Gaza City have cracked down on the smoking of shisha in public. From The New York Times:

A spokesman for the Hamas police, Ayman al-Batniji, said that the ban applied only to women and that it was in line with "the Palestinian  people's customs and traditions." But many cafe owners said they had been ordered to ban water pipes for both men and women.

Smoking large water pipes called shisha, usually with bowls of flavored tobacco, is a longstanding pastime here.

Plainclothes members of the Hamas security services have been inspecting cafes along the Gaza City beachfront, including men-only establishments like Al Shera Café, where men go to drink coffee, tea and soft drinks while playing cards.

Want to have fun in Gaza City? Try to find the small, terrified union of Palestinian vintners, who make horrible wine away from the prying eyes of the morality police. If you are a Hamas volunteer, pulling guard duty, you can always eat ecstasy.