Palestinian Authority policemen on Thursday caught 12 Palestinian teenagers while they were smoking hookahs in a Ramallah coffee shop.
The move came as part of the PA’s new policy of enforcing a ban on selling cigarettes and the hookah to minors under the age of 18.
The owner of the coffee shop, who was not identified, was taken into custody, PA police spokesman Luai Zreikat said.
Zreikat said the policemen, acting on a tip, had raided the coffee shop where the schoolchildren were smoking the water pipes.
The teens were later referred to the relevant authorities, while the owner of the business was detained for questioning.
The police spokesman called on Palestinian parents to increase supervision over their children and make sure they arrive at school after leaving their homes in the morning.
He also warned restaurant and coffee shop owners against offering the hookah to minors under the age of 18.
Over the past few years, hookah smoking has become extremely popular in many Palestinian restaurants and coffee shops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Many of the businesses do not hesitate to offer water pipes to minors.
Alarmed by the growing phenomenon, the PA’s governor of Ramallah and el-Bireh, Laila Ghannam, announced earlier this week a ban on selling cigarettes, hookahs and alcohol to minors under the age of 18.
Ghannam warned that strict measures would be taken against anyone who violates the ban.