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Friday Oct. 8, 2010 7:59 PM (EST+7)
Drug bonfire: Hamas declares war on drugs in Gaza City

Read more: Hamas, Gaza Strip, drug war, drug trade, illegal drugs

RAMALLAH, October 8 (JMCC) - Hamas has declared its war on the illegal drug trade in the Gaza Strip with the public burning of a multimillion-dollar stash of illegal drugs. The government staged the burning outside Nasser Children’s hospital in the heart of Gaza City.

They made an incongruous sight, piled on to trestle tables in the car park outside a government office. Long bundles of dried marijuana branches – known as Bango here – the chocolate bar-shaped slabs of hashish, a few still half-covered with the blue Action cheese wrapping used to smuggle them in, and the smaller grubby blocks of off-white cocaine. Beside them were huge transparent plastic bags stuffed with packets containing nearly half a million painkillers, Gaza's psychotropic pills of choice – Tramadol, and a smaller selection of drugs on display not because they were banned in themselves but because they had been smuggled illegally from Egypt and Israel: the nasal decongestant Clarinase, a so-called traditional chinese medicine named Tiger King, and the inevitable sexual-enhancement drugs: Cialis, Levitra and something unconvincingly called Marcin Sexual Gum.

The thick black smoke rising from the hospital's incinerator was the latest testament to the Hamas de facto government's zero-tolerance policy towards drugs and intoxicants of all kinds. And a reminder, if one was needed, that the Islamic faction is the sole and energetic enforcer of law and order in this territory of 1.5 million people.

The high-profile drug campaign has been an uphill struggle in Gaza, where Tramadol use in particular had reached near-epidemic proportions as many Gazans turned to the drug as a way of coping with depression and anxiety caused by the economic siege, Palestinian divisions, joblessness and warfare.

But the de facto government's attorney general, Mohammed Abed, the man in overall charge of the campaign, is confident that it is now well-advanced.

According to Mr Abed, drugs siezed so far have a street value of between $20m and $30m (£12m and £18m).

Read more at The Independent…







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