JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – 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.