illegal Ecstasy-like drug - Palestinian Police - 22122011
A police haul of the illegal Ecstasy-like drug which is sweeping East Jerusalem. Photo by Palestinian Police
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Antidrug organizations in East Jerusalem have been forced to cope with youngsters taking a new drug that causes hallucinations and paranoia, often leading to violent behavior. Youngsters who have used the drug, which the authorities are not familiar with, said it is sold in tablets, like Ecstasy.

"In the past months we've had about 30 cases of youngsters who used this drug," says Isam Jawikhan of the Al Makassed antidrug NGO in East Jerusalem. "It's a sort of Israeli imitation of Ecstasy, but with a much worse effect."

A first-year medical student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, aged 19, tried to set his room on fire in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher about two weeks ago. He told his parents, who were awakened by the smell of smoke, that he was just trying to get warm. He said he had taken an energy pill a friend had given him to increase his concentration.

His parents say he is "a good boy who never caused any problems." When he persisted in his arson attempts, he was sent for psychiatric observation.

An 18-year-old youth from Sheikh Jarrah was brought to the municipality's antidrug unit in East Jerusalem for treatment, suffering from powerful hallucinations after taking the drug. Suddenly he jumped on the unit manager who was interviewing him, screaming that he would kill her. Later he said he suspected she had stolen the SIM card from his head.

A youth from Anata, aged 17, violently attacked his family members about a month ago, then undressed and fled the house naked.

All these youngsters are described as ordinary school or university students with no prior record of drug abuse.

The Jerusalem police said they would examine the complaints in order to track down the drug's distribution and stop it. "We take a grim view of the drug abuse among teenagers and are acting covertly and openly in schools to prevent drug trafficking and catch the dealers," a spokesperson said.