Omer's trip was sponsored by The Washington Report, and the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv was responsible for coordinating Omer's travel plans and his security permit to leave Gaza with Israeli officials. Israel controls the borders of Gaza and severely restricts the entrance and exit of Gazans allegedly on grounds of security. Human rights organisations accuse the Israelis of using security as a pretext to apply collective punishment indiscriminately. While waiting in Amman on his way back, Omer eventually received the requisite coordination and security clearance from the Israelis to return to Gaza after this had initially been delayed by several days, he told IPS.
Accompanied by Dutch diplomats, Omer passed through the Jordanian side of the border without incident. However, after arrival on the Israeli side, trouble began. He informed a female soldier that he was returning home to Gaza. He was repeatedly asked where Gaza was, and
told that he had neither a permit nor any coordination to cross. Omer explained that he did indeed have permission and coordination but was nevertheless taken to a room by Israel's domestic intelligence agency the Shin Bet, where he was isolated for an hour and a half without explanation. "Eventually I was asked whether I had a knife or gun on me even though I had already passed through the x-ray machine, had my luggage searched, and was in the company of Dutch diplomats," Omer said.
parliamentarians, and mocked Omer for being "the prize-winning journalist". The Gazan journalist was repeatedly asked why he was returning to "the hell of Gaza after we allowed you to leave." To this he responded that he wanted to be a voice for the voiceless. He was told he was a "trouble-maker".
Every cavity of his body was searched as one of the investigators pinned him down on the floor, placing his boot on Omer's neck. Omer began vomiting, and fainted. When he came round his eyelids were being forcibly opened and his eardrums probed by an Israeli military doctor, who was also armed. He was then dragged along the floor by his feet by the Shin Bet officials, with his head repeatedly banging on the floor, to a Palestinian ambulance which had been called.
The Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv has also raised the issue with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which in turn has promised to investigate the incident and get back to the Dutch officials. Ahmed Dadou, spokesman from the Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS, "We are taking this whole incident very seriously as we don't believe the behaviour of the Israeli officials is in accordance with a modern democracy.
was neither aware of Omer's journalist credentials nor of his coordination.
"We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened. "I'm not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behaviour of the Shin Bet."