Since Hamas took over the Gaza strip in 2006, Gazans have been subjected to corruption and oppression at the hands of their Islamist rulers. Recently, several reports and testimonies have confirmed that Hamas rule has also meant Hamas involvement and control in a drug trade in Gaza.
Let’s examine the facts.
The Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported that Hamas leaders’ involvement in the drug trade and corruption has turned 680 Hamas leaders into Millionaires (that is 80 millionaires more than the 600 reported by the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat) newspaper.
WAFA reported that the wealth came from controlling the smuggling of good through the tunnels with Egypt, including “alcohol and drugs,” describing Hamas leaders as “Gaza’s drug lords”.
In addition, the prominent Egyptian newspaper, al-Mesryoon, quoted Egyptian writer and academic Abdul Munim Saeed as saying that Hamas was the main importer and exporter of drugs into Gaza.
Egyptian security sources told the Al-Dostory Al-Asly newspaper that Hamas was charging tunnel smugglers ten percent of their proceedings, including those coming from drug trafficking.
The Islamic News Agency also published a report on Hamas’s drug trade in Gaza. In the report, Gazan public figures and intellectuals complained that Hamas let drug dealers out of jail within two or three days of their arrest, as Hamas’s judges “were very lenient on drug dealers” at the same time they were jailing Hamas’s political opponents.
A doctor who visited Gaza recently and who agreed to speak to me on the condition of anonymity, said he believed that Hamas controlled the drug trade in Gaza through importing and selling mood-altering drugs, particularly Tramadol, a drug used to treat pain, similar to codeine. The doctor said he witnessed wide-spread use of the drug by Hamas fighters and that many Gazans use the drug to comfort themselves from their daily suffering under Hamas. “Only a government can import such huge amount of Tramadol,” he said. “Hamas must be directly involved in this matter.”
Even pro-Hamas writer Fayez Abu Shamaleh admitted that Tramadol has become a common-use drug in Gaza under Hamas. He noted average street prices for drugs have dropped 80 percent in the last few years, making drugs accessible even by Gaza’s school children.
A Palestinian news website, Yabous Press reported that the drug trade in Gaza was controlled by Hamas’s Police Counter-Drug Unit, which is supposed to fight drugs. Yabous Press reported Hamas police would arrest drug dealers who don’t work for them, confiscating their drug supplies, and then selling it in the market for themselves.
In October 2012, several Palestinian news websites have been circulating the names of 66 Hamas government members known in Gaza for controlling the drug trade in Gaza including a son of a Hamas government minister. As of now, Hamas has not commented or denied these reports.
Hamas has brought misery, pain and destruction to Gaza, so Hamas’s alleged involvement in narcotics trafficking should not come as a shock to anyone.Mudar Zahran