Ali Waked
September 19, 2010 - 12:00am,7340,L-3956631,00.html

Hamas approved a law permitting the death sentence for drug dealers and up to seven years behind bars for drug users, thereby stepping up its war on drugs in the Gaza Strip. Ministry of the Interior spokesman Ihab al-Rasin said Sunday that Hamas had in fact adopted an Egyptian law.

Al-Rasin, speaking during a ceremony to mark the end of a three-month campaign against drugs, also accused Israel of "continuing its efforts to swamp the Strip with drugs."

Hamas Justice Minister Muhammad Faraj al-Ghoul said the Hamas government uses religion and the Koran to keep people away from drugs, and that in addition to deterrent sentencing, rehabilitation programs will be set up in detention centers.

Last month Hamas presented the results of an extensive raid carried out in July, in which large quantities of alcohol, Viagra pills, marijuana and cocaine were confiscated, all of which were incinerated.

Amer Issa, who heads Hamas' war on drugs unit, said at the time that the drugs were smuggled from Israel or Egypt, and emphasized that in July alone police had confiscated 150 kg (330 lbs) marijuana, 4 kg (8.8 lbs) cocaine, 200 bottles of alcohol and 2 million pain-relief tablets, which many Gazans have become addicted to.

Gaza police said the import of drugs makes society "inhuman."

"From now on we will carefully scrutinize anyone who tries to bring these drugs into the Gaza Strip," said Abu-Obeida al-Jarah, who was police commissioner at the time. "Some have already been caught, and we'll catch the others too."


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