Click here to read an excerpt from the book.
(Paperback | ISBN 9789386050212 | 320 pages | June 2016)
‘[Omer] produced eyewitness dispatches of such clarity and brilliance that, almost single-handed, he reclaimed the honour of real journalism.’
Operation Protective Edge, launched in early July 2014, was the third major Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip in six years. It was also the most deadly thus far. By the conclusion of hostilities some seven weeks later, 2,200 of Gaza’s population had been killed, and more than 10,000 injured.
Journalist Mohammed Omer, a resident of Gaza who lived through the terror of those days with his wife and then three-month-old son, provides a first-hand account of life on-the-ground during Israel’s assault. The images he records in this extraordinary chronicle are a literary equivalent of Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’: children’s corpses stuffed into vegetable refrigerators, pointlessly because the electricity is off; a family rushing out of their home after a phone call from the Israeli military informs them that the building will be obliterated by an F-16 missile in three minutes; donkeys machine-gunned by Israeli soldiers under instructions to shoot anything that moves; graveyards targeted with shells so that mourners can no longer tell where their relatives are buried; fishing boats ablaze in the harbour.
Throughout this carnage, Omer maintains the cool detachment of the professional journalist, determined to create a precise record of what is occurring in front of him. But between his lines the outrage boils, and we are left to wonder how a society such as Israel, widely praised in the West as democratic and civilized, can visit such monstrosities on a trapped and helpless population.
Click here to read an excerpt from the book.
‘From the very heart of Gaza, a witness to war: history will record Mohammed Omer’s searing testimony about what was done to his homeland by Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge”… This is journalism of the highest order.’
—Jon Snow, Channel 4 News
‘Read Shell-Shocked! Its author says, “I’m a journalist and I owe it to my people and the Israeli people to get to the truth.” Thank you, Mohammed, the truth is like water, a basic necessity, without it we will not survive.’
—Roger Waters, musician
‘‘Whenever I heard something had happened in Gaza, or I wanted to know the latest, I first turned to Mohammed Omer’s Twitter feed. During Israel’s summer onslaught, Omer worked day and night through harrowing and life-threatening conditions to ensure that the plight of Palestinians in Gaza would not be forgotten. A native of Gaza and part of its people who had to cope with the direct impact of the war on his own family and community, he is first and foremost a professional whose reportage is second to none.’
—Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada
and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine
‘Shell-Shocked draws back the curtain to tell us what it is like to live in a small besieged and enclosed area, subject to savage bombardment, systematic deprivation, and callous imprisonment. Written with painful immediacy, these are more than dispatches from a war zone: they convey the human reality of people who manage to survive and endure in conditions that have grown grimmer and more inhumane over the years. This book is a wake-up call to those who allow these war crimes to continue unpunished, while lauding the aggressor’s right to “self-defense”.’
—Rashid Khalidi, Columbia University
‘With a terrible and necessary exactitude, Mohammed Omer’s war chronicle lets the world know the devastating losses borne by the Gazan people bombarded by Israeli forces in 2014. He himself suffered the losses he documents, opening up the question of how one continues to write, to live, and to struggle for justice under such conditions. This book shows us how and why this struggle can, and must happen, giving us the details […] we need […] to waken the world into a lucid understanding of the degradation of destruction undergone by a population that seeks to live, to mourn, and to resist. In this text, the witness of suffering, the one who suffers, and the activist are one, offering a searing case for why the assault on the Palestinian people must end, and why we must all struggle for the end to violence.’
‘Mohammed Omer could easily have escaped the horror of Israel’s impending assault on the trapped and helpless people of tortured Gaza. Instead, he chose to stay, to record, in searing and vivid detail the horror, savagery, and sadism of Israel’s latest escapade of “mowing the lawn” and the steadfastness of the victims of a hideous tragedy. Few can match his courage and integrity, but all of us who provide the arms and diplomatic support should at least ponder every word and ask ourselves what we have done and what we must do.’
‘If you only have time to read one book on Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, let it be this one. Mohammed Omer’s on-the-ground reporting is stunning and unforgettable, giving access to a daily reality few can imagine let alone endure. Omer describes the landscape of Palestinian life and death in this tiny strip of land during this horrific period. Yet, his accounts are not only about the immense suffering of Gaza’s people but about their remarkable resilience and dignity, which cannot be destroyed. An act of conscience and documentation, Omer’s book will remain with the reader long after it is read.’
—Sara Roy, Harvard University
‘Mohammed Omer has documented Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip and the everyday acts of resistance by its people with unparalleled courage and clarity. To read Omer’s captivating dispatches is to come as close as possible to the rubble-strewn ground in Gaza without passing through the fortified walls that encircle it.’
—Max Blumenthal, author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel and The 51 Day War