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Released! Update on Osama


Released! Update on Osama

Friends,

Thank you all so much for your calls and letters on behalf of Osama and Thomaso and your support for the efforts of the International Solidarity Movement. A special thanks to our Israeli friends who were on the phones immediately to various political offices. Osama was released this afternoon, Thursday April 24.

Osama is currently resting; he was repeatedly kicked and beaten on his back and denied sleep during his time in Israeli military custody. A few short hours after his release, he received a call that he is to report back to the Ariel police station tomorrow. We will take the appropriate precautions.

We really believe, and Osama confirms, that it was all of your calls, thus the knowledge that many people were watching the Israeli authorities and were concerned about their obviously brutal and unjustifiable practices, that secured Osama and Thomaso's release.

We also appreciated your informative updates concerning your phone conversations. I include just a sample below for your information:

...Guy at the other end appeared relatively polite. Asked whether I am a journalist, and I answered no (wondering what would have happened if i said I was? I asked why he and Tomaso were held. Answer: Tomaso was released, and Osama was held because he broke the law. - Which law? - The law of the state of Israel. - Which one specifically? - He broke the law, that´s all. - Okay, but which one specifically? What did he do? - He was in a closed military zone, a place where it is forbidden for him to be. - Was it clear that this was forbidden? Are there barriers or fences around military zones? - No. He wasn´t supposed to be there. - How could he know? And he is held now just for being there? - He interfered with the army. - How? What did he do? - I don´t know. - So you hold him although you don´t know exactly why? - Look, I should not talk to you anyway. I told you already he broke the law. - I appreciate your talking to me. Do you know who knows what he did? - I don´t, you would have to talk to the army. - To whom? - I don´t know. This is a crazy country. - That´s also my impression. You hold someone in jail without really knowing why and don´t know who knows. - I cannot say more, and I think we should end this conversation. Thanks but no thanks for this wealth of information.

I called police information, where they laughed when I said that the Ariel settlement is illegal (explaining that it is illegal to build on occupied land) and told me that the Italian journalist had been released and that Mr. Qashoo was still "detained" - I could not resist saying that there seem to be different laws for different people in the democratic State of Israel. I mentioned that many people had been informed of what happened to Mr. Qashoo and that I was not a personal contact of his.

I called the number of the Ariel police spokesman, where I spoke to a woman whose English wasn't terribly good. I think she had a Russian accent. I identified myself as calling from Los Angeles, as one who writes "a newsletter." She didn't press me on who I was; I suspect she didn't understand what I said.

She confirmed that "the journalist" had been released. We had a bit of a back and forth when I asked if he had been forced to sign something as a condition of his release. She claimed he "voluntarily" signed it, but when pressed on the point of it being a condition of his release, she admitted that it was.

According to her, the document required that he not return to the immediate area, and that he could return to the West Bank. It took several tries to get an answer on this point, with me specifically asking "he can't return to the immediate area, or anywhere in the West Bank?" She had to ask someone else in the room a couple of times to get an answer.

As to "the Palestinian," she claimed that he will be released "in a couple of hours." She also claimed that he had been "caught" in this area once before. I then asked if the place he was arrested was a civilian area, or a military area. At that point, she conferred with the other person in the room, and the line went dead.

I just want to let you know that I called the Ariel police station about 20 minutes ago at the 3-906-5530 number. A man answered. I told him that I was calling from the United States to inquire about Osama Qashoo. He said" Who? Osama Bin Laden?". He seemed to think it was a joke. I said, "No, I know you don't have Osama Bin Laden there. I'm calling about your prisoner Osama Qashoo and would like to know what is happening to him". He said " I no speak english. You call tommorrow" and hung up on me. I then called again and it was answered by a different man who hung up on me when I identified myself.

It is approx 8 pm EST, and I just got off the phone with the Ariel prison. (prisoner information number)

The person I spoke with said I was the "100th" caller in 5 hours to express concern. He sounded very impatient: I asked, how are they? He said 'they are fine; call me at 10 am, they may be going home'. I said 'that would be good'

Thank You All!

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