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Is the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Causing Drug Problems?

Israel News Culture
by Christine DeSadeleer Dec 4, 2009
The Hamas government has decided to impose stricter rules on those caught smuggling drugs.

Things don’t look good for those who get caught bringing drugs into the Gaza Strip.

With nearly a third of the 300 prisoners in the main jail in Gaza detained due to drug offenses, a 10-year sentence is apparently not enough of a “deterrent for this lucrative trade,” at least according to Hamas and this article on

While Mexico legalized small amounts of pot and other narcotics in the “War on Drugs”, Hamas has decided to impose hard labor and the possibility of the death penalty on those caught smuggling drugs in through tunnel trade. It seems the tunnel trade in and of itself is officially sanctioned by Hamas as a way of defying Israel’s blockade, but it is much harder to control the flow of goods than through a normal customs process.

Recently seized contraband include washing machines full of hash and the Opiate pain-killer Tramadol. Ecstasy is another popular drug with the young, and ends up being sold in high schools.

It seems drug smuggling has surged in the past few months, or “increased alarmingly” to quote the article. Why could this be? Anything to do with the daily warfare and struggle for survival that both the Israelis and Palestinians must face? Hmmm.

Survival Instinct

When you take away people’s ability to live a safe and secure life, they are going to do their best to get to a safe and secure place (or forget where they are altogether). Even the article notes:

Tramadol has been a big seller…among those of the population of 1.5 million who have found solace in drugs from after Israel’s three-week military onslaught last January, launched to stop Hamas firing rockets into Israel.

Though they are also sure to add: “The motivations of some drug-users are also banal: to banish boredom, improve concentration or for sexual enjoyment.” Ok, yes, that’s a given in any culture.

But along with the fact that the need to mentally escape is inevitable, there is also the tiny issue of excruciatingly high rates of unemployment and poverty rates in the Gaza (this article puts them at 50%). Where there is poverty, drugs will be sold, if only for monetary purposes. Really, it’s survival on both the economic and psychological fronts.

So, they’re gonna stop smugglers with the possibility of the death penalty. Good idea. Aren’t most people there facing that on a daily basis anyway?

Do you think taking a harsher approach to drug smuggling will work? Share your thoughts below.

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