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Heroin Hits The Holy Land

East Jerusalem Palestinians blame Jews for mounting drug problems. But a rising tide of Heroin impacts Israelis as well.

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The Dome of the Rock in East Jerusalem's
Old City, where many addicts live Photo via

By Fionna Agomuoh

03/08/12

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Already engaged in an epic battle, both Palestinians and Israelis are now dealing with another deadly problem: heroin addiction. Smack was scarce on the West Bank and the Gaza strip before 1967's Six Day War, when Israel occupied the area. But since then, Al Quds University estimates that 6,000 people in East Jerusalem are hooked on the drug, compared with 300 in 1986. Naturally, the problem has become highly politicized. Activists claim that unemployment and poverty have led many young Palestinians—especially in East Jerusalem—to seek release through the drug. But Israelis haven't been spared. According to a recent news report, the Jewish state is now home to an estimated 300,000 heroin addicts—70,000 of them teenagers. NGOs promote drug awareness and counseling services in schools and distribute needles, straps, and condoms to addicts in an attempt to stem the rising tide of STDs and Hepitatis C associated with heroin use. No figures are available for overall drug use in Palestinian territory, but just a single drug rehab is now operating on the West Bank. "There are no resources," explains its founder Nihad Rajabi.

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