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Saturday, June 28, 2008

ISRAELIS BEAT AND TORTURE RETURNING JOURNALIST, MOHAMMED OMER

Originally posted by my good friend in Israel, Desert Peace. Make a point of reading his site daily!

mohammed OmerUPDATE from IPS NEWS… just published.

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.

Mohammed was in Britain, where he was the recipient of a prize for journalism. You can read about it HERE in a post I wrote earlier in the week.

Mohammed’s ordeal is written about in an Action Alert issued by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a journal in which he appears regularly.

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.


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