‘Shell Shocked: On the Ground Under Israel’s Gaza Assault’ by Mohammed Omer

Published by OR Books / Haymarket Books in 2015.

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“Mohammed Omer could easily have escaped the horror of Israel’s impending assault on the trapped and helpless people of Gaza. Instead, he chose to stay, to record, in searing and vivid detail, the savagery 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 live in countries providing the arms and diplomatic support that made Israel’s actions possible should ponder his words and ask ourselves what has been done in our name and what we should do about it.”

—Noam Chomsky

“The truth about Israel’s crimes in Gaza can never be forgotten, never successfully lied about and covered-up, because Mohammed Omer was there. This great reporter and his family were under fire day after day. When I phoned him, I could hear the explosions outside his front door. Yet, day after day he produced eyewitness dispatches of such clarity and brilliance that, almost single-handed, he reclaimed the honour of real journalism.”

—John Pilger

“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.”

—Judith Butler


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. By the conclusion of hostilities some seven weeks later, 2,200 of Gaza’s population had been killed, and more than 10,000 injured.

In these pages, 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 harbor.

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.


Mohammed Omer is a Palestinian journalist whose reporting has appeared in media outlets including the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Al Jazeera, the New Statesman, Pacifica Radio, Electronic Intifada, and the Nation. He is the founder of the blog Rafah Today.

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