My dear friend and brother Mohammed Omer returned to his native Gaza Strip on Thursday… literally unconscious and unable to speak after being beaten and tortured by Israeli troops. He is still unable to speak so I was not able to communicate with him, I will be posting updates on his condition in future posts.
Gaza Correspondent Mohammed Omer Home Again in Rafah
At a June 16 ceremony in London, Mohammed Omer, author of the regular Washington Report feature “Gaza on the Ground,” received the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism (a link to the presentation and Omer’s remarks can be found on our home page, <www.wrmea.com>). He shared the prestigious prize with independent American journalist Dahr Jamail, who was honored for his “unembedded” reports from Iraq.
Before traveling to England to receive his award, Omer spoke in Sweden, the Netherlands and Greece about the situation in Gaza. Dutch MP Hans Van Baalen, head of the parliament’s foreign relations committee, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Pilger spent weeks lobbying Israel to issue an exit permit to allow this young reporter to travel to Europe and London.
Not for the first time, however, getting home was even harder than leaving.
As soon as Omer arrived in Amman, the Dutch diplomats who were helping facilitate his travel arrangements informed him that the Israelis did not want to allow him to return. After further intervention by his Dutch sponsors, Omer finally got the green light, and on the morning of June 26 crossed from Jordan into the occupied territories via the Allenby Bridge. There he was interrogated, strip-searched and manhandled for several hours. After losing consciousness, he finally was taken to a hospital in Jericho, and from there escorted back to Gaza.
MP Van Baalen has demanded that Israel launch an investigation into Omer’s barbaric treatment.