A court in the Gaza Strip has sentenced two drug dealers and traffickers to death today, the first such punishment handed down by the Palestinian judiciary in a narcotics case, officials said.
Marijuana and prescription painkillers have been flooding into the Gaza Strip, prompting judicial officials and legislative officials from Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, to seek tougher penalties for smuggling drugs.
Both convicted dealers were caught smuggling marijuana, opium and tramadol through tunnels under the border with Egypt, according to a list of their charges.
Tramadol, a pain relief drug similar to the morphine opioid family of medicines, has a powerful high that can not only cause addiction, but countless adverse and deadly side-effects.
Since the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, tramadol abuse and trafficking has surged, leading to addicts committing crimes. Known colloquially as “tramal”, drug abusers desperate for their next dose have perpetrated domestic abuse and other violence.
When passing their verdict on the dealers and smugglers, the court said:
Such actions represented a threat to Palestinian national security, with its economic and political dimensions.
The Palestinian court’s linkage to national security is common in the region, as drug abuse is widely perceived to be a cause behind the break up families and communities, which has a knock-on effect on the wider nation.
Drug dealing and narcotics smuggling are looked upon grimly throughout the Middle East and North Africa, with the vast majority of countries carrying severe penalties, including death, for offenders.