The United Arab Emirates has sentenced an Israeli-Arab woman to death for possession of 500 grams of cocaine, an Israeli news outlet reported today.
"Ynet has learned Fidaa Kiwan, 43-year-old Haifa resident, was arrested on March 17, 2021 with half a kilogram of cocaine, while claiming the illegal substance that was found did not belong to her," the website reported.
Israel's Foreign Ministry said it is aware of the case and is "handling it through the Israeli missions around the world and its representatives in the Emirates."
The Jerusalem Post noted that in the UAE, death sentences usually are not actually carried out but instead commuted to a long imprisonment.
Kiwan was arrested about a year ago and sentenced just a few days ago. Her brother traveled to the UAE, but was prevented from meeting with her, even in court. He told Ynet that his sister started a hunger strike in protest over her sentence and claimed that “she was beaten to confess something she has not done.”
Kiwan, who owns a photography studio in Haifa, traveled to Dubai for work at the invitation of a Palestinian friend. She was arrested one week after she arrived, following a search in her apartment in which the drugs were discovered. The apartment where she stayed, was arranged for her prior to her travel.
“It is all lies. Fidaa is not dealing any drugs,” Kiwan’s friends told the website. “She is successful and has a great job. We are certain that the drug belonged to someone else, not to her. They should have checked the origins of the drugs instead of tailoring the case to her, which will destroy her life.”
Kiwan’s family and friends drew parallels to the case of Naama Issachar, an Israeli woman who was arrested in Moscow in April 2019 after more than 9 grams of marijuana were found in her luggage. She was later sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, but was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin after then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intervened.
“As for Fidaa, we heard no condemnation and there was no help. She was abandoned until she received a death sentence,” one of Kiwan’s friends claimed. Her lawyers implied that Issachar’s case allegedly received better care by Israeli authorities since she was Jewish.
One local Israeli news outlet reported that Haifa residents remember Kiwan from a café that she once managed. When an Israeli soldier once tried to enter the establishment, Kiwan reportedly said he was not allowed in since he was wearing his uniform. The incident was widely reported in Israel and drew attention to the café that apparently operated without a license and was forced to close.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.