Middle East: Hamas Adopts Tough New Drug Laws, Includes Death Penalty for Dealers

The Hamas government running the Gaza Strip has adopted a law that allows for the death penalty for drug dealing. The move came Monday with a Hamas decision to cancel Israeli military laws on drugs and replace them with Egyptian drug laws. "The government has approved a decision to cancel the Zionist (Israeli) military law with regard to drugs and enact Egyptian law 19 of 1962," Gaza Attorney General Mohammed Abed said in a statement. "The latter law is more comprehensive in terms of crime and criminals and the penalties more advanced, including life sentences and execution. The Zionist law included light punishments that encouraged rather than deterred those who take and trade in drugs, and there is no objective, national or moral justification for continuing to apply it," Abed said. The Egyptian drug law will remain in effect until the Palestinian parliament passes a new drug law. But the parliament has only met rarely since elections in 2006. The Gaza Strip was administered by Egypt from 1948 to 1967, when Israel seized the territory, along with several others, during the Six-Day War. Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers from the territory in 2005, when it was under the control of the secular Fatah Party of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. But Hamas unexpectedly defeated Fatah in Gaza elections in the 2006 elections and consolidated its power in a bloody factional struggle with Fatah the following year. Because of an ongoing Israeli blockade, most goods, including illicit ones, imported into Gaza are smuggled in, primarily through a network of tunnels on the Egyptian border. But Hamas has cracked down on drug trafficking and drug traffickers, claiming more than 100 arrests, and the seizure of dozens of kilograms of drugs, mostly marijuana.
Palestinian Territory
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Because the whole thing is so enmeshed with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, I am not commenting directly on the drug laws. However, looking at a map, it would make good sense for Israel to give the Gaza area back to Egypt, since they have a non-aggression pact with Egypt, and give the Palestinian territories on their inland border to Jordan, again Israel has a peace treaty with Jordan, so that the residents have a country of their own and can put their energies into building a future, instead of looking forward to another 50 years of guerilla war against overwhelming force. I do not understand why Israel insists on keeping control of those territories, which have now been turned into gigantic, multi-generation, concentration camps, and are an abomination to every civilized person, Jewish, Christian, or Islamic. Israel may have more enlightened drug laws, but it is totally barbaric in the occupation.

let's make legitimate comparisons

One big problem with giving the territories to Jordan and Egypt is that neither the Egyptians, Jordanians nor Palestinians want that. The only solution that has any momentum is the territories becoming a state, without occupation.

As for the concentration camp comparison, that is an off-the-wall level of overstatement. Life can be hard in the territories, especially Gaza, but people literally were marched off to their deaths in extermination facilities in the concentration camps, or worked to the bone as slave labor, and the living conditions were no comparison either. These kinds of wild mis-comparisons don't help the peace process -- people who don't want there to be talk about the settlements or giving up the territories just use them to make noise and discredit the peace side of the debate entirely.

On the subject of drug laws (which is what we're supposed to be talking about here), I don't think they have a lot to do with the conflict. Much of the Arab world, like much of the Asian world, has barbaric drug laws (as does the US, though not quite at that level).

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