The blockade on Gaza Strip has been called the “longest in history”, and it has been almost seven years that the Palestinians have been suffocating by the Israeli embargo. While the Occupation is cunningly imposing collective punishment on the Palestinian people, the resistance keeps on the track more powerfully than ever. These people have shown they are not doomed to oblivion, never, ever. The series “At the Heart of a Siege” deals with the issue of Gaza Siege from new angles most of which have not been dealt with so far. The series includes six episodes each probing into a singular facet of the issues related to the blockade of the Gaza Strip in depth. “The Drug Assault” touches upon new fronts in the Occupation-Palestine conflict where the Occupation employs drug trafficking in the whole area.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
Narration: The Gaza Strip has an area of 360 square km, and it’s one of the most populated places in the world. Israel withdrew from the strip in 2005. However, the land, the water, and the air of the strip have remained under the Israeli control. The Gaza Strip is connected to Israel by 5 crossings for people and goods. Those 5 crossings are now blocked, after the siege imposed, after Hamas won the elections 8 years ago. Israel allowed the opening of 2 crossings. The only independent crossing is the Rafah terminal that connects Gaza and Egypt and used only for people. The Rafah crossing is closed most of the year. Therefore, Gazans had to bring food and medical supplies through tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. After the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip that destroyed a massive portion of the Palestinian security bodies; especially the police, trading of different kinds of drugs was unprecedentedly active. This trade was active through networks and people; some of them had connections with Israel. They flooded Gaza with many types of drugs in addition to hallucination pills in an attempt to destroy the Palestinian society, specially its youth by spreading moral decay and family disintegration. This has caused a new struggle that Israel created to destroy the Palestinian youth and generate drug dealing
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Saadi Alsheikh Khalil, Director at Media & Public Relations Office: “The conflict between us and Israel isn’t by weapons and power. It’s a war on this generation that aims at destroying it and making it forget its homeland, sacred sites, and heritage and that dignity should be preserved, or forget to seek freedom. Therefore, Israel contributes the most to the smuggling of drugs that destroys the generation.”
Narration: Israel also seeks knocking down the determination of Gaza government that strives for preventing and stopping this phenomenon even from a tent or a temporal office.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Dealer: “I have worked with a famous drug trader from the Green Line of Israel. It’s for sure that he bought drugs from an Israeli trader or a Jewish trader whose job was to provide the Gaza Strip with the biggest amount of drugs.”
Narration: The conflict between Gaza and Israel is not only military or for security reasons. It is gone further: It’s the conflict of drugs. Israel is trying to destroy the morale and the Palestinian’s resistance by targeting the young generation. This generation has the greatest growth rate in the world. In Gaza, people who’re younger than 19 years old are 51% are of the total population. Gaza. This is Karam abu Salem Crossing; one of the main crossings that connect the strip with Israel.
TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00
Narration: Most of the goods that come to the strip pass through it. Israel tries to fill Palestine and the strip with drugs through the goods that come by trailers. The General Directorate for Combating Drugs plays a vital role and is present at this crossing, as they search for drugs. They exert efforts in this field
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Dealer: “We have passed through the Karmabu Salem crossing before. With the help of some people who used to go to Israel from time to time, we brought Ecstasy pills and other kinds of drug pills. We brought them here to the strip.”
Narration: This is the sea border between the Palestinian and Egyptian water made by these markers. Lately, the Egyptian army has destroyed many tunnels made between Gaza and Egypt. Thus, smuggling drugs has nearly stopped. Israel smuggled drugs to Sinai, then to Gaza through the tunnels. After that, smugglers started smuggling with fishing boats in the Palestinian water.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Police forces: “From Fahed 42 to Fahed 2, Are you receiving that?
Fahed 2 to Fahed 42. I got it.
I am with Fahed 45 in an inspection mission, you got that?
Copy that, Fahed 42. Follow with that and keep me posted, you got that?”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Khalil Timraz, Director, Combating Drugs Office: “The department has to send one officer of those who were investigating with you yesterday to every department. There must be a force of women police and a force of order maintenance, a force of drugs combating, and K9. you should contact the Gaza branch and its forces to coordinate with the Zaitoun branch. Abu-Mohammed is going to the second house. That’s good. House 3 is for Momen. We should specify the point because the surrounding areas are broad as we saw on the maps.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Police forces: “I should inform you that special Fahed 42 has gone to search a house. You got that? Copy that. We are following that.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Khadija Moheisen, Sergeant, Woman Police: “Our team has to enter the house first to give the women the chance to cover themselves and then we search the house. We assure the women, cool them off and ask them to assure the children.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Wala’s Hassan, Sergeant, Woman Police: “We take the woman to a room and search her. It happens that we find women are hiding things in their clothes, or things nobody suspects.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Saadi Alsheikh Khalil, Director at Media & Public Relations Office: “You have to keep in mind that we’re dealing with the most dangerous sector. Drug dealers are criminal, not only in the strip, but also all over the world. A drug dealer is willing to fight, shoot and be violent. Sometimes, they shoot at the police forces when they go to search. However, we get everything under control on the spot.”
TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00
Narration: For years, some Palestinian security bodies accuse the Israeli intelligence for the recruitment of weak Palestinian youth, or those who do not have experience in life. Who become drug dealers and smugglers, and usually end up being exposed by Palestinian security bodies and be trailed and finally go to jail.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ayoub Abushaer, Police Spokesperson: “We, in the police force, discover through interrogations that there is a direct communication between some people in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli intelligence for the sake of bringing these drugs to our nation in the strip. They try to recruit our youth using these drugs.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Dealer: “Most of the drugs we used to bring to the strip and was hidden before, were wrapped in plastic bags with Hebrew writing. This is the biggest evidence that the trader who brought these drugs was Israeli. One day, I talked about this to the trader who sells me drugs. The great drug trader who used supply me and supply the trader who contacted me was a known Israeli trader.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Addict: “Our neighbor used green pills, and I used to ask him about them.
He would say they were Tramadol and stimulants, then I wanted to try them. I asked him to give me some, he immediately gave me one pill for free. That pill made me happy, full of energy, relaxed, and comfortable sleeping. I used to be sleepless, but then I could sleep. Gradually, I started visiting that man and asking him if he had some of the pills, and he would say no, I’ll bring you some later. Then I increased the dose, every couple of days or daily. I became an addict after only 3 weeks.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Dealer: “The way we used to bring drugs was by bringing them inside other goods we bring to the Gaza Strip. The Israeli trader would hide them himself because no one can touch the goods coming to us but him. I mean he was hiding these goods in wood boards. He would empty the internal part of the board, and then stuff it with drugs. He would also put drugs inside vehicle tires or the clothes they used to bring to us as second-hand clothes sold in closeout sales. All what we would know was that some Israeli companies make closeout sales at the end of the year, then traders would hide drugs in the lining of clothes”
TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Addict: “We were told that the pill costs lots of money, like 100 dollars and then we bought it for 2 or 3 shekels. This means that it’s planed, as dealers work through the “Mossad” and provide drugs with low prices and are even ready to give it for free. Young men stopped thinking. Personally speaking, if there’s bombing after I take those pills, I don’t care at all. Previously, when I heard about a martyr, I would feel bad, or goes watch the news of any bombing. I used to feel bad at the scenes of dead children, but after using drugs, those scenes became normal.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ahmed Sharqawi, Psychiatrist: “When the person becomes an addict, and has his motivation changed and moved towards his addiction, he becomes easy to control. Then becomes a doll controlled by whoever sends him these drugs. This person becomes numb as he’s a drug user.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Addict: “I used to think that it was fine if Israel would destroy all of Gaza as long as I was under the effect of drugs. This is all that the Israelis seek, that’s why they allow the drugs in the strip. They want us to be unconscious of our cause.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ayoub Abushaer, Police Spokesperson: “Certainly, the occupation is exerting great efforts attempting to recruit the Palestinian youth by bringing these drugs into the Palestinian land either into the Gaza Strip or other places.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Hassan Swerki, General Directorate for Combating Drugs: “When the new law was issued in 2013, with the daily follow-up reports from the different governorates, we witnessed a noticeable decrease in the number of drugs cases. The new law of 2013 contains harsh punishments.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Addict: “I was only thinking of how to get drugs. I never thought of marriage or my future. A normal young man would think of his future at night, getting married, or starting a business. For me, I only thought of how to get drugs the next day. After using pills, I wanted to try other drugs like cannabis and so”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ahmed Sharqawi, Psychiatrist: “The addict’s god and idol becomes “addiction”. They would kill their mothers or siblings and steal if we’re talking on a social level. Psychologically, they work and live just to use drugs. The physical effects are obvious: there are psychological troubles, and mental disorders. There are psychotic syndrome and mental illnesses.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Addict: “I want to get rid of this addiction because it’s destructive. It made me steal from my family and abuse them. Drugs make one steal to have the money for pills. And maybe if one sees a person who has few pills, he would kill him for the sake of the pills.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ahmed Sharqawi, Psychiatrist: “Hallucinogens” are cannabis and extacy. These “Hallucinogens” affect the consciousness as one may see his son and think he’s a cat. I recall the story of a man who saw his son, but came to his mind that it wasn’t true. He thought it was a cat and threw it away. Eventually, this kid died because of falling down and having head injuries. Do you see? The problem is complicated, broad, and dangerous it is considered one of the most powerful weapons. It’s a war, epidemic, and a disease. It’s a crime.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Addict: “Addiction destroys health and weakens eyesight and hearing. It makes one not concentrate, so if one asks a question, the addict would forget the answer. One forgets what happened the previous day and things like one’s birthday and closet people. In addition, one becomes dull with no feelings.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Imad Fayoumi, Neurology Specialist: “When drugs are not used properly or misused, they cause many damages and symptoms like fainting and memory loss. Drugs may also cause cramps and many heart attacks. These drugs and their addiction lead to arteriosclerosis and clogging the arteries that supply the heart. Moreover, drug addicts do not eat well and do not drink lots of liquids; this leads to dehydration which leads to Kidney failure and Kidney dialysis. Whoever wants to get rid of this addiction has to attend Addiction treatment centers. I know many people who have quit this and now living a normal good life. In this condition, there must be strong determination for addicts and courage to go to those specialists to get rid of this bad habit or addiction.”
TIME CODE: 20:20_25:53
Narration: Along with raiding drug dealers, and the Combating of drugs, the Palestinian government in the strip launches awareness campaigns among youth to protect them from this danger. These campaigns are implemented in schools, clubs, gatherings, and mosques. The NGOs play a great role in recovering from addiction.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ghassan Awad, Grug Rehabilitation Institute: “The drugs recovery program starts immediately after the end of the routine procedures related to entering the institution. The program continues for 30-40 days for most cases. Most of the addicts are young men aged 18-30 years.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Addict: “I regret it because I lost my job, and my chance of getting married. I lost my life and everything. My family doesn’t trust me anymore because of drugs.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Imad Fayoumi, Neurology Specialist: “There are intensive programs conducted by specialized doctors for those patients. There are specific intensive programs to treat drug addicts. Of course, when people first quit drugs, they experience many symptoms like sever slimness, headache and sleeplessness. These symptoms are called the symptoms of drugs quitting. They are transient and happen for a limited number of days. Doctors then give these patients alternatives that do not lead to addiction on which they depend for a certain period of time until they fully quit drugs.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Drug Dealer: “I regret this because drugs were the reason that brought me here in the prison, it’s the cause of all my troubles and poverty, I advise everyone no to choose this way because it’s wrong and leads us to doom and destruction.”
Narration: The General Directorate for Combating Drugs collects the drugs they catch after the raids they implement. After receiving these drugs from the judicial system after the trials, these drugs are being ruined using special ovens and with the presence of many official entities and media.
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Imad Hamatto, Muslim Preacher: “There must be two barriers between us and drugs: the first is religious by fearing Allah because it’s prohibited. The other is a psychological barrier against the culture of the occupation that aims at destroying what remains of our ethics by spreading drugs. They want us to become a nation of no values and morals and a nation that doesn’t care about sacred places or rights. Because of our religion and patriotism, we reject the dealing with the occupier and its culture. Thus, forbidding drugs is connected to religious and patriotism.”
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ayoub Abushaer, Police Spokesperson: “The Israeli enemy is trying to exploit drug users then trying to recruit them. Therefore, I appeal to our nation and youth to avoid this lesion and not to use drugs.”
Narration: In addition to the government and the official confrontation of drug dealing, the Palestinian resistance with its different parties participates in preventing the entrance of drugs and stopping smugglers. That’s added to their duty of protecting the frontiers
SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Palestinian Fighter: “The Zionist occupation is continuously trying to search for new ways to break the internal front of the Palestinians. Its past attempts didn’t succeed by bombing the strip, as they received painful attacks from the Palestinian resistance that couldn’t be confronted. So they’re trying to fight through weakening our youth by drug smuggling. Drugs affect the youth minds and pull them away from their cause, here’s where we have to take action. We have to protect the borders in an attempt of preventing the dealers from bringing drugs or Tramadol into the strip.”