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CO Omar Sa’ad freed from service in Israeli army

quarta-feira 18 de junho de 2014, por Omar Sa’ad,

Omar Sa’ad, who served seven sentences in prison for refusing to serve in the Israeli army, has finally been released from military service. Omar writes of his time in prison, and of the people throughout the world who supported his struggle.

Prison warden! I am a free and you are in captivity…

Brothers and sisters, friends and my beloved family,

On the 25th of October 2013 I sent a letter to the Israeli prime minister and defence minister, declaring my refusal to be recruited into the Israeli army, by the imposed law requiring military service by the Druze community, for reasons of conscience and patriotism. And I refuse to be part of this Israeli army and body that killed and displaced my Palestinian people, demolished our homes, robbed our land, and I repeated my slogan again and again: "I will not be the fuel of your war and will not be a soldier in your army."

This message was spread around the world and met with great interest by the media, as well as with universal support, in addition to attacks by some quarters and a news blackout in the Israeli media, with the determination of the Israeli military authorities to ignore my humanity as they insisted on recruiting me. They sent me the date of recruitment: 4 December 2013.

And on the recruitment command date (196 days ago) you, my comrades and partners, accompanied me , body and soul, to the recruiting office in Tiberias, where I began my battle against being recruited into the Israeli army, hoping to obtain a certificate of exemption from Israeli military service, preferring prison to taking up arms against my Palestinian people.

I was not surprised by their order to put me in prison, and they imprisoned me again and again, trying to break my spirit and change my decision, until they reached a point where they tried to kill me by not providing me with the necessary medical treatment while I was in dire need of it, but to no avail, and I reached the hospital at the last minute between life and death.

I was sentenced 7 times for a total period of 150 days, with 46 days between home and hospital, and every time before sending me out to prison they asked me the same question: "Why you refuse to serve in the IDF?? For some reason called the "army of defence."

My answer was always the same: "I refuse because I am an integral part of the Palestinian Arab people. I refuse because your army is an army of occupation. I refuse because I am the owner of principle and conscience. I make peace with my musical instrument, and I refuse to replace it with a weapon that generates death and does not differentiate between a child, woman, man and an old man. So how can you ask me to kill, occupy and arrest my people? My weapon is my musical instrument and it will not be replaced by any another weapon."

My brothers and sisters

During the period when I was in prison I touched and was so affected by your great support. I was touched by the children - musicians who raised slogans and pictures, along with their musical instruments, demanding my freedom. I was touched by each word and article and comment you all sent via social network/ media.

I was touched by the embrace of all forces of peace and democracy in the world and in our country. Affected by the logos and drawing I received. Affected to see children, youth and elders standing on the Mountain of Prisoners (a name given by the demonstrators to a hill overlooking the Atlit military prison). This name was given in a demonstration demanding my release and the release of all those who refuse to serve for reasons of conscience). They were chanting against the occupation and sang for joy and peace.

I was also affected by the honour I received from the Palestinian freedom fighters and prisoners, while they are the ones to be honoured. They are the light and brightness that each freedom demands.

I was overwhelmed by the love of my people in our besieged country - Palestine.

I was affected when I found Jewish students who call for freedom and justice, demonstrating in support of my case and chanting against Israeli occupation.

I was imprisoned, and today I know the meaning putting a person in prison without any right, because he believes in a just cause.

Today I know what administrative detention is. This arrest that disables all foundations of democracy and justice, and for which any democratic or man of law should answer: What does it mean to detain a person and renew this detention without showing reasons for the detention, without any charge, and without having the right to prosecute or defend himself? Is this not precisely the work of obscurantism systems? Is this not the approach dictatorships?

Today, I join all the honourable forces in the world: freed captives, the administrative detainees who are on a legendary hunger strike, preferring death to humiliation. We do not want to receive them as martyrs. Peace cannot be achieved if we have one freedom fighter inside prison, as there can be no peace while the killing machine is continuing to reap the youth. You cannot achieve peace as settlements are built and deployed as a cancer which will eliminate any possibility to live.

In prison I had some time to read and rejoiced to read the novel The Time of White Horses by the very well-known writer Ibrahim Nasrallah, and the novel Algshawh by the uncle of a friend from the Mughar village, Radi Shehadeh, that taught me about the reality of Palestine and the meaning of how to dance between the rain drops and what it means to be a Palestinian par excellence. These novels taught me how to kill time in useful ways and gave me strength.

My brothers and sisters

I do not have the space to mention all those who supported me and stood by my side, but let me mention in particular the Initiative Committee of Arab Druze, my school and my home.

Let me mention the author Mohammed Nafa and the poets Sameh Al Qasem and Nayef Salim, the martyr Assem al-Khatib and the late Sheikh Farhood Farhood and all the brothers who refuse to serve in the Israeli army. I hope we do not stop at the small things, but to work on writing our honourable history.

Let me thank New Profile for its moral and legal support and lawyer Rowan Aghbarieh, who made great efforts in spite of the obstacles, such as banning her from visiting me, as well as the lawyers from the Office of Attorney Smadar Ben-Natan, the intern Adi Lerner and lawyer Michael Sfard, whom we consulted on different legal topics. And my gratitude goes to Adalah and Amnesty and all human rights organizations that stood by my side.

My thanks goes to the Yesh Gvul movement and all organizations and political parties that demonstrated and released statements to support my release, and special mention goes to the Communist Youth and the Democratic Front.

Special thanks to all the local and foreign media which covered my case.

I thank the members of Parliament who supported my case from all over the world and in our region.

And last but not least, thanks to those who refused to serve in the Israeli army, all who have preceded me and who were with me and those who will come after me, from whom I have learned the meaning of patience and struggle.

Thank you all and I wish I will not disappoint you and can give you back some of your kindness, your love and your sympathy and generosity.

Omar Sa’ad


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