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Shin Beth Beats Our Friend Unconscious

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    ACTION ALERT July 2, 2008 Contact:communications@wrmea.com Washington Report Correspondent Mohammed Omer Hospitalized Following Detention by Israeli Soldiers
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2008
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      ACTION ALERT

      July 2, 2008
      Contact:communications@...

      Washington Report Correspondent Mohammed Omer Hospitalized Following
      Detention by Israeli Soldiers at Allenby Bridge Crossing

      petition - http://mediausa.net/wrmea/petition/

      Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, Gaza correspondent for the
      Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and co-recipient of the
      2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was hospitalized with
      cracked ribs and other injuries inflicted by Israeli soldiers at the
      Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan into the occupied West Bank.
      Omer was returning home to Gaza after a European speaking tour and
      the June 16 London ceremony at which he accepted the prestigious
      Gellhorn Prize.

      Journalist John Pilger (c), a member of the Martha Gellhorn Prize
      judges panel, congratulates co-recipients Dahr Jamail (l) and
      Mohammed Omer. Photo Paul de Rooij.
      ---------------------------------------------------------------------

      Dutch MP Hans Van Baalen, head of the parliament's foreign relations
      committee, and award-winning journalist John Pilger spent weeks
      lobbying Israel to issue an exit permit for the 24-year-old
      journalist. As has been the case before, diplomatic intervention was
      necessary to secure permission for his return as well.

      Nevertheless, Israeli authorities initially refused to allow Omer to
      return to his home in Rafah from Amman. Finally—after missing his
      brother's wedding—he was told that arrangements had been made for
      him to cross the border on Thursday, June 26.

      Dutch diplomats awaited him on the other side to escort him to the
      Gaza Strip. Instead of being granted free passage, however, Omer was
      detained, questioned by a Shin Bet agent, strip searched at
      gunpoint, assaulted and dragged by the heels to an ambulance after
      he began vomiting and going in and out of consciousness. When he
      finally came to, he was in a Palestinian hospital in Jericho, where
      he was treated and allowed to return home in the custody of the
      Dutch diplomats.

      See the following article by John Pilger in the July 2 Guardian:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/02/israelandthepales
      tinians.civilliberties

      The following afternoon, speaking from home, a recovering but still
      traumatized Omer told the Washington Report that he was having
      difficulty breathing and swallowing. The next day, suffering from
      cracked ribs and other injuries, he was admitted to a hospital in
      Gaza, where he remains as of this writing. Washington Report
      correspondent

      Mohammed Omer lies in his hospital bed in the Gaza Strip
      June 30, 2008. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA)

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------

      In his article in the August 2008 Washington Report, "A Voice for
      the Voiceless," Omer defines his life's mission as "to get the truth
      out," and describes himself as "not pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli,
      but simply…an eyewitness on the ground, reporting what happens and
      why."

      One of the Shin Bet agents who interrogated him at the Allenby
      crossing advised Omer not to return to Gaza, where—thanks to the
      Israeli siege—there is no electricity, potable water, medical
      supplies, gasoline or other necessities of life.

      Clearly Israel wants to silence Mohammed Omer's voice, as it has
      silenced the voices of other journalists—most recently Omer's
      colleague Fadel Shana, the 24-year-old Reuters cameraman killed by
      an Israeli tank shell on April 16. Palestinian journalists risk
      their lives on a daily basis to tell the world what is happening in
      their homeland. Their words and pictures remind us that we have yet
      to realize the vow, "Never again!"

      Please click on the button at right or visit the Washington Report
      website, www.wrmea.com, to sign a petition condemning Israel's
      attacks on journalists, both Palestinian and international. Add your
      voice to Mohammed Omer's on behalf of voiceless Gazans and all
      Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation—an occupation
      made possible by American tax dollars.

      ===

      Petition to End Israel's Restrictions on Freedom of Movement and the
      Press

      sign petition - http://mediausa.net/wrmea/petition/

      To: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
      U.S. Department of State
      2201 C Street NW
      Washington, DC 20520

      We, the undersigned, condemn Israel's appalling treatment of
      Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, Washington Report on Middle
      East Affairs Gaza correspondent and author of the magazine's regular
      feature, "Gaza on the Ground."

      The 24-year-old Palestinian journalist was brutally assaulted by
      Israeli Shin Bet security officials at the Allenby Bridge border
      crossing on his way home to Gaza on June 26. He had just received
      the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, which he shared with
      independent American journalist Dahr Jamail.

      Omer's award citation reads, "Every day, he reports from a war zone,
      where he is also a prisoner. His homeland, Gaza, is surrounded,
      starved, attacked, forgotten. He is a profoundly humane witness to
      one of the great injustices of our time. He is the voice of the
      voiceless." (see John Pilger's July 2 article, "From Triumph to
      Torture," in the Guardian:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/02/israelandthepales
      tinians.civilliberties)

      This is not an isolated incident, Pilger points out, but part of a
      terrible pattern. Israel gives its border guards and Shin Bet agents
      free rein to regularly harass Palestinians (as well as Palestinian
      Americans and American peace activists and academics) traveling to
      and from the occupied territories. Israel randomly abuses, searches,
      interrogates and humiliates travelers of every age—men and women—and
      frequently refuses to let them pass through Israeli-controlled
      borders to their homes in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. We
      just don't hear their voices.

      Israel simply doesn't want Palestinian voices to be heard abroad.
      Palestinians are routinely prevented from accepting invitations to
      speak in Europe or North America. Students with scholarships to
      study overseas are not permitted to leave. Israel is now preventing
      Palestinians from returning home, even for a visit, once they have
      left to work or study abroad. (Israel recently revoked Zeina Ashrawi
      Hutchison's travel documents, and will not renew her Jerusalem ID
      card. She is not allowed to return home to visit her father and
      mother, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi.)

      We, the undersigned, also urge the Israeli government to end its
      efforts to censor international reports from the occupied
      territories. The government prefers stories to be filed from Tel
      Aviv or Jerusalem, where they are subject to censorship, and allows
      few, if any, international journalists to enter the West Bank and
      Gaza. Israel censors, harasses and even kills Palestinian
      journalists who are trying to report on conditions in the occupied
      territories.

      We call on the Israeli government to protect journalists who are
      trying to work in the occupied territories. At least eight
      journalists have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza since 2001,
      seven of them in attacks by Israel Defense Forces, according to the
      Committee to Protect Journalists research.*

      We call on the Israeli government to end its harassment of travelers
      and journalists. When Israel targets journalists it infringes on a
      basic pillar of democracy, freedom of the press. Human beings, even
      those ruled for decades by an occupying power, have the right to
      leave home and return safely, without interference, and the right to
      freedom of speech.

      Sincerely,

      <http://mediausa.net/wrmea/petition/results.php>

      *These include:

      * Fadel Shana, a Reuters cameraman, was killed, and soundman Wafa
      Abu Mizyed was wounded, on April 16, 2008 in the Gaza Strip after
      they stopped their car, bearing the markings "TV" and "Press," to
      film Israeli military forces several hundred meters away. Shana was
      filming an Israeli tank when it fired on the men.
      * Imad Ghanem, a cameraman for the Hamas-affiliated satellite
      channel Al-Aqsa, was killed by shells fired from Israeli tanks in
      July 2007 in the Gaza Strip as he was filming paramedics
      transferring victims of an Israeli tank attack.
      * Mohamed Abu Halima, a student correspondent for university-
      affiliated Al-Najah radio station, was killed on March 22, 2004
      while reporting on Israeli troop activity at the entrance to the
      Balata refugee camp, outside the West Bank city of Nablus.
      * Nazih Darwazeh a cameraman for Associated Press Television News,
      was killed by Israeli forces in Nablus on April 19, 2003 while
      filming clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli troops.
      Darwazeh was wearing a fluorescent jacket marked "Press," and he and
      other journalists shouted loudly to Israeli troops in both English
      and Hebrew indicating that they were with the media before the
      shooting.
      * James Miller, a British free-lance cameraman and award-winning
      documentary filmmaker, was fatally shot in Rafah in the Gaza Strip
      on May 2, 2003. His producer Saira Shah, and translator Abdul Rahman
      Abdullah attempted to identify themselves to the Israeli troops in
      the area while they were leaving. The journalists were wearing
      jackets and helmets marked "TV," and Abdullah was waving a white
      flag while Miller used a flashlight to illuminate the flag.

      ===

      Israel denies it mistreated Gaza journalist at Jordan crossing
      01/07/2008
      Reuters
      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/997938.html


      Israel denied on Tuesday allegations by a Palestinian journalist
      that he was abused and injured by Israeli security personnel while
      on his way home to the Gaza Strip after receiving a journalism award
      in Britain. Mohammed Omer said from his hospital bed on Monday that
      he was detained for nearly four hours at the Israeli-controlled
      Allenby Bridge when he crossed from Jordan into the occupied West
      Bank, en route to the Gaza Strip, on June 26. Omer said he was
      forced to strip to his underwear by an Israeli officer who
      then "snatched it down off me".

      He said two officers dragged him by his legs, his head sweeping the
      floor, in front of other passengers, and that he vomited and
      fainted. An Israeli security official said a body search and an
      examination of Omer's belongings were carried out "because of the
      suspicion that he had been in contact with hostile elements and had
      been asked by them to smuggle something in".

      The official said Omer received "fair treatment and no irregular
      action was taken towards him" during the search.

      "At the end of the search, he lost his balance and fell, for some
      reason unknown to us. A team of medics, an ambulance and a paramedic
      were summoned and he was transferred for treatment to Jericho," the
      official said.

      Omer, 24, received the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, awarded
      to journalists who expose "establishment propaganda", according to
      its Web site, at a ceremony in London on June 16. While in hospital
      in Jericho, in the West Bank, he contacted Dutch diplomats who had
      facilitated his trip to Europe, and they drove him to an Israeli
      border crossing with the Gaza Strip. Back in the Hamas-controlled
      territory, he was admitted to hospital where doctors said he had
      suffered a nervous breakdown and that several of his ribs had been
      broken.

      ===

      Full account of Muhammed Omer's hair-raising encounter with the
      Shin Beth
      From Khalid Amayreh in the occupied Palestinian Territories
      01/07/2008


      From his hospital bed at the European Hospital in Gaza and with
      barely audible voice, award-winning Palestinian journalist
      Muhammed Omer has given a full account of the hair-raising
      encounter he had last week with Shin Beth agents at the Allenby
      Bridge border-crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.

      Omer, a co-winner of the 2008 Martha Gelhorn Prize for Journalistic
      Excellence, said he was abused, assaulted , humiliated, ridiculed,
      kicked, and strip-searched at gunpoint by undisciplined Shin Beth
      officers until he had a nervous breakdown in which case he lost
      consciousness for at least 90 minutes.

      A resident of Rafah at the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, Omer
      said he didn't know for sure why the Shin Beth people treated him in
      such a barbaric matter apart from the characteristic sadism and
      savagery routinely meted out to Palestinians.

      "They behaved with unimaginable hatefulness and vindictiveness. They
      couldn't accept the very idea of a Palestinian journalist winning a
      renowned journalism prize. They wanted to punish me for being a
      successful journalist and especially for exposing Israeli
      barbarianism to the people of Europe."

      The following is Muhammed Omer's story as intimated by him to this
      writer:

      "On Thursday, 26 June, the Israeli authorities finally allowed me
      to return to Gaza after several days of waiting and uncertainty in
      Jordan. When I arrived at the Allenby Bridge Border Crossing, I was
      dragged away rather unceremoniously to a special room where I was
      made to wait for more than 90 minutes. This happened as Dutch
      diplomats who were accompanying me were waiting outside.

      "When I arrived on the Israeli side of the Allenby Bridge, I
      encountered an Israeli female officer who started mocking me in a
      brazenly insulting manner.

      "She asked me repeatedly where Gaza was. She then said I had no
      permit to return to Gaza via Israel.

      "Then a Shin Beth officer who introduced himself as "Avi" showed up
      and took me to an isolated room where I was kept stranded for an
      hour and a half.

      "He asked me "Oh, You are Muhammed Omer.

      "Yes, I said.

      "You know you are a fool," said Avi, adding "how could you leave
      Europe and return to Gaza where there is no water, no electricity,
      nothing.

      "I told him Gaza was my country, and I was a journalist and
      wanted to be a voice for the voiceless.

      "A voice for the voiceless," Avi spoke sarcastically.

      "He then asked me if I was carrying any contrabands or guns or
      knives.

      "I said no, I had none.

      "Then he asked me to produce the money of the prize I won. I told
      him that the money would be transferred later to my bank account."

      "Then one Shin Beth agent demanded in a stern tone that I hand all
      the money I was carrying with me over to them. They didn't believe
      I didn't have the prize money with me.

      "Disappointed, Avi, who was carrying a pistol in his hand, ordered
      me to take off all my clothes, which I did, leaving my underwear.
      At the same time, another officer was pointing an M-16 rifle in my
      face.

      "Take the underwear as well," he said.

      "I told him I wouldn't. What do you want from me," I protested in a
      suffocated voice.

      "Then he ganged up on me and forcibly removed my underwear piece,
      leaving me completely naked."

      "Avi, training the pistol at me, told me to turn right and turn
      left, before telling me to get dressed again.

      "At that point, I was nearly totally broken emotionally. I felt I
      was being raped. I cried and pleaded to them to leave me alone, but
      to no avail"

      "Telling me I haven't seen anything yet, they dragged me to another
      room where they interrogated me on my speaking tour in Britain,
      Sweden and Greece.

      "Oh, you have not left a place in Europe without speaking at… You
      know these Europeans, they hate Israel.

      "Then another Shin Bet officer began kicking me and pushing me. This
      lasted for more than ten minutes after which I fainted and lost
      consciousness. Eventually they began dragging me along the floor by
      my feet with my head banging on the floor.

      "I don't remember much of what happened to me during this period,
      but remember a Shin Beth officer piercing his finger right below my
      eyes and at the lower end of ears. Also, another Shin Beth officer
      was pressing his large boots against my neck as I was lying
      unconscious on the ground.

      "I thought I was dying. I remained in a state of unconsciousness for
      up to 90 minutes until a medical doctor, who was carrying an M-16,
      performed an (electro-cardiogram) or ECG on me. "Then I heard
      someone saying the word `ambulance.'

      "However, before a Palestinian ambulance from Jericho arrived, a
      Shin Beth officer came to me and asked me to sign a form that I was
      not being maltreated by the Shin Beth.

      "I was too distraught, too confused and too unconscious to say
      anything.

      "Eventually, I was taken to the Jericho hospital where I was assured
      by doctors that I was fine."

      Muhammed Omer said the Israeli Shin Beth inserted a special
      electronic device into his mobile phone which would enable them to
      know his whereabouts. He also called upon his colleagues around the
      world to condemn in the strongest words the "criminal and
      disgraceful Israeli behavior" which he said "only befits criminals
      and thugs, not states, let a lone states that claim to be civilized,
      western and democratic."

      The Dutch Foreign Ministry has protested the traumatic treatment
      meted out to Muhammed Omer and demanded and explanation. Similarly,
      the Dutch Embassy in Israel reportedly has raised the issue with the
      Israeli Foreign Ministry. The Shin Beth, Israel's chief domestic
      security agency, controls all aspects of Palestinian lives and is
      widely believed to systematically and grossly violate the basic
      human rights of Palestinians.

      ===

      The BBC ignores the beating of Palestinian journalist they
      interviewed only days before
      By Mary Rizzo
      Jun 30th, 2008

      LETTERS TO THE BBC BY DAVID HALPIN

      To BBC News online


      Dear Olivia,

      My first message to you was on 06/28/2008 at 08:33 PM. I see no
      report of the assault on this journalist on the BBC web site.

      Assuming you are on holiday, I am copying this to senior
      colleagues. To this lay person, there would appear to be several
      reasons to report that which Mohammed Omer has and is suffering.

      1. The BBC were sufficiently interested to interview him on BBC
      World Service just before he left for France. I provided the
      contact number for that to happen.
      2. It is true is it not that an unprecedented number of journalists
      have been killed in Iraq - at least 250? 9 have been killed in
      Gaza. The alleged barbaric treatment of this young journalist
      should be reported; the louder the silence, the greater the state
      impunity.
      3. If this was Alan Johnston and not a Palestinian (albeit of great
      talent), the story would have been number one.
      4. I ask what would have been reported by yourselves if the boot
      which trod on his throat had lead to his death. It has been a near
      thing and I have not had a report today. Would his dying from this
      assault by agents of Israel have been reported by the British
      Broadcasting Corporation?
      5. His courage is exceptional - and our world needs that more than
      ever. His own web site http://www.rafahtoday.org/

      I ask that you report it. He was/is in the European hospital near
      Khan Younis. Its number is Tel 00970 - 8- 2054495

      Yours sincerely

      David Halpin FRCS

      Dear Olivia,

      A more explicit report http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?
      idnews=43005 and an up to date report from a Swedish journalist
      who has taken Mo's writing and photos for these last 5 years. Lotta
      Schullerquist spoke with him in the European hospital. He is on
      a `drip' because he cannot swallow and his speech is faint. It is
      likely that the boot was `placed' across his larynx as he lay
      supine. A major `broadsheet' will carry the details tomorrow. They
      were celebrating the birth of a `democracy' 60 years ago in Trafagar
      Square I am told.

      For truth
      David


      BBC Online

      Dear Olivia,
      You were aware of this prize giving 14 days ago. I was honoured to
      attend. We were distressed when we learned that a tired but happy
      Mo had been stopped from entering Palestine. I have returned from
      another enjoyable Palestinian exercise last night in London to learn
      of this assault on an unarmed young man, who with his family has
      already suffered greatly under the Israelis. A brother was shot
      dead, his mother was shot in the leg and the family home was
      demolished in Rafah in 2004.

      I thought you would wish to report this. I have his number for
      corroboration but I imagine he will not to hear from the west at
      present.

      With best wishes
      David

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