All Israel
Opinion Blog / Guest Columnist
ALL ISRAEL NEWS is committed to fair and balanced coverage and analysis, and honored to publish a wide-range of opinions. That said, views expressed by guest columnists may not necessarily reflect the views of our staff.

The billion-dollar drug connection to Jenin

Illustrative - A customs officer displays confiscated Captagon pills (Photo: REUTERS/Nikolay Doychinov)

Who would have thought that the northern West Bank Palestinian town of Jenin is tied to billions of dollars which finance terrorism?

After all, it houses an enormous refugee camp, of over 23,000 and is home to upwards of half a million people, some of whom are greatly disadvantaged, due to a high rate of unemployment and lack of decent education.

Yet, according to a recent article entitled 'Drug Smuggling Finances Jenin Terrorism,' we learn that, “Since the start of 2023, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have injected millions of shekels to encourage the continued intensification of terrorism in the Jenin region.”  

Although the vast sums of money come from Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Iran, where Hamas and other terrorist leaders are based, the cash finds its way into Palestinian territories, including Gaza, for the sole purpose of funding terror – not for schools, hospitals, the improvement of roads or sanitary conditions. No, those billions, which could be used to dramatically improve the lives of poor Palestinians, cannot go toward that purpose, because it would mean that their victimhood would come to a halt, something that their leaders would never allow.  

The sad truth is that, to Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders, the lives of their people are only worth something when they are expendable. Anyone, for example, who is willing to become a suicide bomber will be rewarded in hard cash, once he is dead – well, at least his family will be. He, on the other hand, will attain immortality by having a street, a park or another venue named after him. That is how it works.

If you were to ask from where is this money coming, it’s simple. Just like the Mexican or Chinese cartels, the drug trade has shown itself to have a big payoff – enough to finance whoever terrorists want to terrorize, and, in this case, it is usually Israel. If Palestinians are the collateral damage in order to accomplish that task, then so be it. There are always more where they came from because if your leaders fail to provide a future of hope and advancement, for an entire population, there really is no reason to aspire to live to a ripe old age.   

Through this drug trafficking, millions of shekels can be had in just a few short months, and for now, the drug of choice is “Captagon,” also dubbed “the poor man’s cocaine.” Known as a psychostimulant, this synthetic drug comes in the form of pills and was originally used to treat ADD (attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy (the sleeping disease). Highly addictive, this amphetamine-type of stimulant is said to be mass-produced in Syria, where it ultimately finds its way to other Arab gulf countries, all as a protection for Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad, who cleverly trades in the commodity as a power broker toward his survival. 

Once Captagon was discovered to be a psychotropic (a drug that affects one’s mental state) substance, its use was largely discontinued, internationally, due to the danger it posed, but it, nonetheless, continued to be produced as smugglers got hold of what still managed to be in the market. Eventually, counterfeit tablets, using the name Captagon, were manufactured in Bulgaria and smuggled by criminals who were able to get them into the hands of terrorists.

Gulf countries have suffered greatly from this scourge, repeatedly encouraging the Syrian president to end the flow of this lethal drug. In fact, they have continuously offered him economic aid, something which he could surely use, given his war-torn country and the poverty which has arisen as a result.  

Yet, he, just like the others, fails to do what’s best for his country and its citizens while continuing to facilitate the drug game, which he likely sees as the best insurance policy to keep remain in power and also to enrich himself.

Together, the criminals have paired up with the terrorists in order to commercialize an extremely profitable venture of both drug and weapons smuggling, often taking place from Israel’s eastern neighbor, Jordan. Even though a number of their efforts have been caught by security authorities, the staggering number of 135 million shekels ($36.3 million), in just one year (2022) testifies to the massive amount which obviously succeeded in getting through. 

In fact, as shocking as it might sound, a member of the Jordanian parliament was caught trying to smuggle weapons while crossing into Israel just a few months ago. Given his diplomatic ties, he had been a useful tool as a smuggler, which few would suspect. 

Clearly, there is a market for these drugs, and it’s sad to say, but some in Israel have participated in the purchase, only helping to fund their own demise, but when you’re an addict, that probably isn’t much of a major consideration. 

Another interesting piece of information is that Hamas has employed the use of cryptocurrency to help launder their enormous profits because they can no longer do so through charities or other means, as they have in the past. Once this became known to Israel, then-former Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz took action, seizing large sums of currency from 12 digital accounts. This effort is continuing under Israel's current defense minister, Yoav Gallant, and there is hope that it will begin to curtail this type of money laundering.  

This is why the IDF undertook a military operation in order to destroy the well-established infrastructure in Jenin, which has produced many successful attacks in Israel. The refugee camp, in particular, was targeted since that is the place from which many of the terrorists have arisen. With the very strong presence of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in the camp, young men are easy prey to the recruitment which is taking place there, and whether they live or die, once the attack is perpetrated, is of no interest to the ones who have sent them out.  

For now, the multi-billion-dollar drug smuggling industry is still booming, so long as Syria is in the mix with the ever-important Jordan and Iran connection. If Israel ever hopes to put an end to the growing terrorism, which threatens our existence, she will first have to cut off the treasure trove of drugs that are making these attacks possible.  

As they say, the head of the snake must be cut off and, in this case, that head belongs to our neighbor in the north.

A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

All Israel
Receive latest news & updates
    A message from All Israel News
    Help us educate Christians on a daily basis about what is happening in Israel & the Middle East and why it matters.
    For as little as $5, you can support ALL ISRAEL NEWS, a non-profit media organization that is supported by readers like you.
    Donate to ALL ISRAEL NEWS
    Popular Articles
    Latest Stories