A campaign against drugs was launched by Gaza's interior ministry last month targeting tramadol tablets which are widely used by youth in the Sector.
Tramadol is a drug prescribed by doctors as a pain killer; however it is widely misused by drug addicts as a replacement drug. Opium, marijuana and various other kinds of drugs are in short supply in Gaza as a result of the strict anti-drug campaigns carried out by the ministry of interior.
This drug is imported officially by the ministry of health in Gaza and by several pharmaceutical companies; however it is also widely imported by drug dealers through smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.
Despite strict monitoring of the tunnels, smugglers use several tricks to deceive security officers in order to get the drug into the country.
Regarding the purpose of this campaign, the spokesman of the ministry of interior in Gaza Islam Shahwan said: "It aims at ending the destructive effects of tramadol which may have a psychological, social, economic health and security impact."
Shahwan said that the main activity they carry out is promoting awareness among the youth and their families about the aforementioned effects.
In a telephone call with Shahwan, he said: "Many of the drug dealers are involved in this dirty work just to make money." However, he confirmed that there are organised groups which are working to spread this drug among Palestinian youth for security reasons.
"We discovered an organised group connected with the Israeli occupation," he said. "They bring the drugs through the Eretz Crossing, the crossing between Gaza and Israel, through the sea or across the eastern Gaza borders."
This group of dealers, according to Shahwan, were asked to spread this drug among the youth to make them more susceptible to collaboration with the Israeli occupation. "We investigated them and this is what they admitted," Shawan said.
The Ministry of interior is to carry out campaigns against drugs, collaboration with the Israeli occupation and other forms of immoral actions in the society. Such campaigns are appreciated by psychiatrists and families in Gaza.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad