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Shell Shocked
On the Ground Under Israel’s Gaza Assault
Gripping eye-witness account of Operation Protective Edge by only Palestinian reporting in English from Gaza during Israel's 2014 assault.
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.
Reviews
  • "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

    "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

    "The horrors inflicted on the 1.8 million people of the Gaza Strip are hidden from most people in the West. "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

    "Omer bravely gathers the voices of ordinary Palestinians who live through the torment….Of the two and a half thousand Palestinians who died in the last attack, over 500 were children. Omer tells their story with poignancy….[His] style is crisp and unpretentious.”
    —Vijay Prashad for Economic and Political Weekly

    "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 of destruction we need to know 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."
    —Judith Butler

    "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."
    —Noam Chomsky

    "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 wi