Cablegate: Israel Incsr 2009 Part I
DE RUEHTV #2377/01 3011452
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281452Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4017
UNCLAS TEL AVIV 002377
STATE FOR NEA/IPA AND INL
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR IS
SUBJECT: ISRAEL INCSR 2009 PART I
REF: STATE 97309
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1. (U) Israel is not a significant producer of or trafficking point
for illicit narcotics. However, domestic demand fuels a diverse
local drug market that relies on smuggling from both neighboring and
more distant countries. Imported marijuana, hashish, ecstasy,
heroin, cocaine, and LSD are all prevalent, as are a growing number
of domestically produced "designer" drugs and higher-quality
hydroponic marijuana. Israeli officials noted with concern that
some of these "designer" drugs are being marketed and exported to
the U.S., Europe, and Australasia via the internet. Israel has also
become a transit country for the smuggling of heroin from Jordan to
Egypt in return for money or hashish. Unlike the U.S., Israel does
not have an analog drug law. This has facilitated the phenomenon of
"pitzutziot," or, 24-hour convenience stores, selling "designer"
drugs--only some of which are prohibited by existing ordinances.
Oftentimes, these stores also sell illicit narcotics, large
quantities of common household products used as inhalants, such as
glue, and alcohol-especially near popular clubs and bars. Israel is
a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
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Status of Country
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2. (U) Over the past year, Israeli authorities noticed that many
segments of the population moved away from abusing traditional
illicit narcotics. Instead, the use of "designer" drugs--many of
which are manufactured to fall within the bounds of technically
"legal highs" due to their chemical composition--and counterfeit
pharmaceutical prescriptions became more common. Officials seized
several large quantities of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API)
diverted for use in the manufacture of illicit narcotics and
"designer" drugs over the past year. These included Paracetamol
(used to dilute heroin), Mannitol (a sugar used as an adulterant or
cutting agent in various illicit narcotics), pseudoephedrine,
Cathinone, amphetamines, as well as large quantities of empty pill
capsules found in make-shift drug laboratories. Israel has no law
requiring pharmaceutical machinery to be registered, which
facilitates their use in the manufacture of illicit narcotics.
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Country Actions against Drugs in 2009
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3. (U) Policy Initiatives: Since Israel is not a major producing or
manufacturing country, most efforts were targeted to counter illicit
drug trafficking, supply and the small-scale manufacture and use of
new "designer" drugs. The Israeli National Police (INP) continued
its general policy of interdiction at Israel's borders and ports of
4. (U) Israel focused legislative measures to promote the rapid
inclusion of new substances into its Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.
Over the past year, almost 50 new substances were added. This
year's additions set a new precedent since some of the substances
have not yet been detected in Israel, nor determined in practice to
be dangerous. Instead these substances were assumed to be dangerous
due to their chemical composition. A recent amendment to this
Ordinance forbids the manufacturing, importing, exporting,
displaying, possessing or selling, without permission, of any
5. (U) Israel also recognized the danger inherent in the diversion
of precursors and subtances used in the manufacture of illicit
narcotis. To prevent and control the diversion of precursors, a
competent national authority was appointed, national legislation
requiring permits for import and export of precursors is now being
enforced, and good cooperation exists with the industrial sector to
6. (U) Law Enforcement Efforts: The police concentrated their
efforts on interdicting smuggling from both neighboring and overseas
countries. Marijuana and hashish remain the most common drugs
smuggled into Israel. With the entrance of Moroccan and Afghan
hashish into the Israeli market, the Egyptian border has become the
main hashish source in the country. The 230-KM peaceful border with
Egypt makes it an attractive entry for smuggling. In the first
three-quarters of 2009, INP seized 930kg of hashish and 186 kg of
marijuana by the Egyptian border.
7. (U) In the past year, Israeli law enforcement officials opened
31,419 total drug offence files-a 7.1% increase from the previous
year. Around three-quarters of these cases (23,259) were for drug
use (a 9.5% increase on the previous year). There were 4,532
trafficking cases-a 38.3% increase, demonstrating the Israeli
National Police's focus on trafficking offenses. Cultivation and
production cases (206) fell by 38.5%. There was no significant
change in possession cases (5,849).
8. (U) Law enforcement officials engaged in a special initiative to
combat the sale of "designer drugs" sold in 24-hour convenience
stores, or "pitzutziot." Israeli police and customs officials
conducted over 30 raids on such kiosks this year, each yielding
between 10-5,000 capsules. The Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit, in
coordination with the police, executed three major raids on capsule
producers and suppliers, seizing over one million empty capsules.
However, the lack of an analog drug law or law requiring the
registration of pharmaceutical processing machinery continues to
cause complications. Customs, Police and Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit
(PCU) officials worked together to intercept and investigate
shipments of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) diverted for
use in the production of illicit narcotics.
9. (U) Police and customs officials increased efforts to combat the
importation of "Yaba" (a combination of methamphetamine and
caffeine) from Thailand and Laos, as well as its use among the local
Thai population. They conducted over 40 seizures in the second half
10. (U) Operation North Star, a joint effort among local and
national police authorities and international partners, broke up a
cocaine smuggling ring operating from Panama to Israel and Europe.
In all, over 100 kgs of cocaine were seized during this operation.
11. (U) Police also broke up a major ring of narcotic addicts and
psychiatrists in the major cities that was stealing and forging
Ritalin prescriptions, recording over 100 incidents of counterfeit
Ritalin prescriptions. Efforts are also underway to interdict the
smuggling of anabolic steroids, another chief concern.
MDMA (Ecstasy tablets)
2008-112,905+2 kg powder
Source of data: Israel National Police, Research Department.
*2009 data represents seizures from January through September.
** Of the 939,741 Ecstasy tablets seized in 2007, 777,000 were
seized from one container in the port of Haifa arriving from
***80,000 of this number were tablets of Captagon seized in the Dead
****Seizures of Cathinone only. Availability of Cathinone diminished
after it was banned under Israeli law, but authorities continue to
pursue analogs of the drugs.
12. (U) Corruption: As a matter of government policy, Israel does
not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution
of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or
the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.
Corruption is treated as a serious matter by the government. In
2009, a number of public officials, including a former prime
minister, were under investigation for corruption-related offenses.
Israel has signed, but not ratified, the UN Convention against
Corruption. Israel does not have specific legislation for public
corruption related to narcotics, but narcotics-related corruption is
covered under its generic anticorruption legislation.
13. (U) Agreements and Treaties: Israel is a party to the 1988 UN
Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances,
and the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by
the 1972 Protocol. Israel and the U.S. have a customs mutual
assistance agreement and a mutual legal assistance treaty. Israel
ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in
December 2006 and has been a member of the Commission on Narcotic
Drugs in the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) since 2003. Israel
has signed but not yet ratified the UN Convention against
Corruption. Israeli companies participate in UN operations Topaz and
Purple to restrict the abuse of precursor chemical substances.
Israel is one of 36 parties to the COE European Treaty on
Extradition and has separate extradition treaties with several other
countries, including the U.S. Under the umbrella of the UNODC,
Israel has restarted bilateral cooperation with the Palestinian
Authority on reducing demand and supply of narcotics. Israel also
cooperates on a regular basis with the Anti-Narcotics Department in
Jordan. This has resulted in increasingly effective control of the
Israel-Jordan border area, as reflected in interdiction figures.
14. (U) In 2007, a new Protocol to the Convention on Extradition
between the United States and Israel entered into force.
Significantly updating the 1962 convention, the Protocol replaces
the outdated list of extraditable offenses with a modern dual
criminality approach and permits temporary surrender for trial in
the requesting state of fugitives serving a prison sentence in the
requested state. In combination with Israeli domestic extradition
law, the Protocol also provides for service of a U.S. sentence in
Israel for fugitives determined to be Israeli citizens and residents
at the time of the commission of the offenses and allows limited
inclusion of hearsay evidence in U.S. extradition documents. Israeli
domestic statute of limitations in certain circumstances, however,
may prohibit extradition of fugitives whose cases are more than ten
15. (U) This year, Israel was accepted as a member of the Permanent
Forum on International Pharmaceutical Crime (PFIPC), which consists
of 15 member countries from around the world, including the United
States. In 2010, Israel will host the annual PFIPC Conference.
16. (U) Cultivation/Production: The majority of illicit narcotics
consumed in Israel are produced elsewhere. A small amount of
high-quality hydroponic marijuana ("hydro") is grown domestically.
17. (U) Drug Flow/Transit: The Israeli National Police (INP)
believes that Israel has become a transit country for the smuggling
of heroin from Jordan to Egypt in return for money or hashish.
Robust routes used to smuggle weaponry, people and tobacco are also
utilized for drug smuggling. Much of the smuggling is carried out
by Israeli Bedouin drug smugglers who have connections with Egyptian
cultivators. In 2009, the INP seized over 150 kg and 36.5 kg of
heroin by the Jordanian and Egyptian borders, respectively.
18. (U) The importation of precursor chemicals and production of
"designer" drugs is becoming increasingly prevalent in Israel. The
Pharmaceutical Crime Unit (PCU) reports that some of these drugs
have been marketed and exported to the U.S., Europe, and Australasia
via the internet. Israeli officials have noted the proliferation of
an entire network whereby precursor chemicals are smuggled into or
diverted once in Israel, immediately used to produce various
"designer" drugs, which are in turn shipped for sale in kiosks
domestically and small quantities for export. Law enforcement
intelligence shows that these domestic drug manufacturing and
distribution networks are functioning extremely effectively so as to
not keep large quantities of any finished product in any one place.
19. (U) Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction: The Israel Anti-Drug
Authority (IADA) is the primary agency responsible for designing and
implementing domestic programs to reduce the demand for drugs.
National efforts to counter the abuse of illicit drugs focus on
cultural and gender sensitive policies aimed to prevent drug use
among the general, target and high-risk populations. Treatment and
rehabilitation of drug abuse victims and their families is a key
goal. Israel offers myriad treatment methods, ranging from drug
detoxification, therapeutic communities, drug substitution and
needle exchange programs, with the overall aim to provide unique
solutions for different individuals and minimize the adverse
consequences of drug abuse on society. Credible and accurate
information on the harmful consequences of amphetamine-type
stimulants (ATS) is provided to the public as part of general
national public awareness campaigns. The IADA stresses the
importance of community-wide participatory approach to countering
drug abuse, and has developed regional and local programs addressing
the unique needs of each community. An amendment to Israel's
Municipality Law has made it compulsory for local municipalities to
establish treatment services for drug abuse victims, and to offer
education and prevention activities in their jurisdiction, as well
as establish local committees for combating drugs. In the last
year, IADA has worked intensively on the issue of alcohol,
especially as it relates to drug abuse.
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U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
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20. (U) Bilateral Cooperation: There is robust collaboration between
Israel and the United States on illicit narcotics. The DEA Country
Office in Nicosia, Cyprus and Israeli officials characterize their
cooperation as outstanding. The Israeli Tax Authority also maintains
direct cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices
in Rome, and continues to conduct joint anti-smuggling operations.
There is a monthly bilateral exchange on major drug seizures in both
countries. The Pharmaceutical Crime Unit also works directly with
21. (U) Road Ahead: Officials from both the Israeli and U.S.
government wish to continue strengthening an already excellent
partnership in the area of illicit drug enforcement and
rehabilitation efforts. The DEA Country Office in Nicosia, Cyprus
will continue its cooperation and coordination with counterparts in
the Israeli law enforcement community. The Israeli National Police
continues to strengthen relationships with law enforcement agencies
in other countries, and works through the Office of International
Relations within the IADA to pursue this objective. The IADA has
begun to establish relationships with the National Institute on Drug
Abuse and the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the U.S.
The Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit hopes to engage with U.S.
governmental and private researchers on the effects of several
"designer" drugs made with Cathinone and amphetamine derivates as it
prepares for an Israeli analog drug law. The Israeli Tax Authority
would like to bolster collaboration with the U.S. on investigations
of narcotics smuggling.