Israeli woman sentenced to death in Arab country after drug bust

The Arab-Israeli woman was originally arrested in March 2021, after Dubai police raided her apartment and discovered half a kilogram of cocaine.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

An Israeli woman was officially sentenced to death on Tuesday by an Emirati court for possession of half a kilogram of cocaine.

According to Arabic-language media, the woman was identified as Fida Kiwan, a 43-year-old Arab Israeli from the northern city of Haifa.

Kiwan was reportedly invited to Dubai by a Palestinian acquaintance based in the Gulf kingdom, who promised to help her further her career as a graphic designer.

That acquaintance provided Kiwan with an apartment, which she moved into in March 2021.

Just days after she landed, Dubai police raided the apartment and discovered about half a kilogram of cocaine, an amount which, authorities say, indicates an intention to sell the drug.

Ynet reported that Kiwan has maintained her innocence since her arrest 13 months ago, saying that she had no idea there was cocaine in the apartment and speculating that someone may have stored it there before her arrival.

In a statement to the media, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said they were “aware” of Kiwan’s case and are actively working on resolving it.

A Foreign Ministry source told Ynet that the sentence of death was highly unlikely to be upheld and will probably be converted into a heavy prison term of several decades.

Kiwan is not the first Arab-Israeli to run afoul of the UAE’s strict drug laws.

Khalil Dasuki, a Lod native with a lengthy criminal history and known affiliation with an Arab crime family, was arrested in October 2021 in what Emirati officials say was the Middle East’s largest-ever drug bust.

Dasuki was allegedly one of the masterminds behind the smuggling of some 500 kilograms of cocaine — worth an estimated $136 million — via shipping containers in a cargo ship.

“Once the shipment arrived, the suspect transported the illegal drugs to another emirate and stored them in a warehouse with the aim of selling and promoting the harmful toxins,” said Eid Mohammed Thani Hareb, director of the Anti-Narcotics Department, in a media statement at the time.

He added that Dasuki had been caught “red-handed” at the warehouse.