Israeli Authorities Have No Comment on Whether Americans Held
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israel’s ambassador to Washington said Friday that three Arab-Americans were detained by Israeli forces on the occupied West Bank.
Ambassador Zalmon Shoval told Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., that the three naturalized U.S. citizens were being held in the town of Ramallah, six miles north of Jerusalem, the senator’s spokesman, David Carle, said.
Edward Salazar, a foreign policy specialist in Simon’s office, said he was told the men were arrested Monday ″out of some security concerns.″
Two of the men were identified as Mohammed Jarad, 36, of Chicago, and Mohammed Salah, 39, of suburban Bridgeview, Ill.
Jarad was born in Ramallah, Salah in Jerusalem. Both are naturalized U.S. citizens who have been living in the United States for about 20 years.
The third man is from Virginia. The State Department did not have his name.
Families of the Illinois men denied reports that they had ties to Hamas, an Islamic fundamentalist group committed to Israel’s destruction.
Spokesmen for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said they knew nothing about the detentions, and a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv, Chris Snow, said he was not free to comment on the reports because of ″privacy restrictions.″
U.S. consular officials visited Jarad on Thursday and he appeared to be in good health, Salazar said. They were expected to visit Salah during the weekend.
Relatives in Illinois said Jarad, a bakery worker, traveled to Israel on Jan. 11 to visit his mother, grandmother and sisters in Ramallah following the death of his father. He was arrested at his mother’s home, said Jarad’s uncle, Ahmad Jarad.
Salah’s family said he, too, had gone to visit relatives. He was arrested at a Jerusalem hotel.
Carle said Simon cabled Rabin on Thursday asking that the two be released if no charges were lodged against them.
Simon’s office was told that the men can be held up to 14 days without charges under Israeli law.