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In a First, Hamas Sentences 2 Drug Dealers to Death | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Illustrative: A gallows is prepared for an execution in Gaza, 2013 (AP/Gaza Interior Ministry)

Ramallah – Hamas intensified its war on drugs and drug dealers in Gaza Strip as part of the campaign launched to end the spreading of narcotics.

A military court sentenced on Sunday two drug dealers to death, the first such punishment handed down by the Palestinian judiciary.

The two men sentenced to death, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Interior, were caught with 3985 pills of tramadol, marijuana, and hashish through tunnels under the border with Egypt.

“The Gaza military court announced the death penalty for two civilians from Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, for selling narcotics,” the Interior Ministry statement said.

One of the men, who is a sergeant, was sentenced to death by firing squad, while the other was sentenced in absentia.

Recently, Hamas struggled with several drug issues and dealers managed to smuggle thousands of narcotics through tunnels with Egypt and from the Israeli side.

Hamas resorted to transferring civilian drug dealers to military court justifying this move by saying this has security impacts.

Hamas officials accused Israeli intelligence for introducing large amounts of drugs and narcotics into Gaza in an attempt to use the youth and recruit them as spies.

The ministry blamed Israel for the epidemic, saying it was working to protect “Palestinian society from various dangers through which the Israeli occupation and the enemies of our people target society.”

What Israel “failed to achieve through war and siege, it will not succeed to do through spreading drugs,” the statement said.

According to officials, some drug dealers admitted to having contacts with Israelis.

The court said that such actions represented a threat to Palestinian national security, with its economic and political dimensions.

Ministry’s spokesperson in Gaza, Iyad al-Bazam, said the ministry will not go easy on drug dealers and promoters.

“Anyone who deals with drugs, his crime is no less than those who spy for the occupation; their goal is the same: to destroy Palestinian society,” he added.

Other criminals are awaiting similar sentences. Chief of Military Judicial Committee Brigadier General Naser Suleiman said that there are over 30 cases for dealers who will be sentenced soon. He added that one of the most dangerous dealers was among the convicts.

Over the past three months, authorities seized 1250 hashish litters and 400,000 pills of Tramadol, and arrested dozens of dealers.

Palestinian authorities said that the death sentences are illegal because they were not issued within the jurisdictions of the courts. According to Palestinian law, death sentences require the president’s signature.