Conflict & Justice

Palestinian journalist alleges abuse

Mohammed Omer's nightmare began when he was ordered to take off his clothes�he said he was ordered to take off his underwear and when Omer refused, an officer grabbed his underwear so he was totally naked. Omer was on his way back from London where he had received a prestigious journalism award. His hometown has arguably seen more fighting and violence than any other Palestinian town. The town is also the site of the Raffah crossing which was Gaza's gateway to the world, but since Hamas seized Gaza a year ago, it's mostly closed. The path to Raffah now involves traveling through Israel, and it was there that Israeli security guards told him to undress, and then rifled through his bags, destroying things. He then collapsed. He was eventually evacuated to a Palestinian hospital. Omer's trip to London was sponsored by the Dutch embassy here which has filed a complaint. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it was surprised by the news. Palestinians are often hassled at Israeli border checks, but this Palestinian official says this is above and beyond the norm. He says Israeli border guards fear smuggling. Omer is now recovering after being treated for exhaustion.

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