Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Action Alert: Mohammed Omer Stranded in Egypt: WRMEA

Washington Report

Action Alert—Call your Congressman
December 19, 2006
Contact: Matt Horton (202) 939-6050 x103

Mohammed Omer Stranded in Egypt

Dear Friends of the Washington Report,

Please find a letter we have faxed 13 Senators and six members of the House of Representatives regarding our prize-winning Gaza correspondent Mohammed Omer who is trapped in Egypt. Please call or fax your own representatives to help this young man get home.

Mr. Omer feels sure that with your help he could get permission to return to Gaza through a different border crossing and be home in time to celebrate Eid with his family. Or Israel can open the Rafah crossing again to help Palestinians, like Omer, get home to their families.

December 19, 2006

Dear Senator,

Our award-winning Gaza correspondent, Mohammed Omer, just completed a very effective U.S. speaking tour. He has received hundreds of e-mails a day (two of which are attached) thanking him for telling Americans about daily life in Gaza. Now he, along with thousands of other Gazans, cannot return home because the Rafah crossing is closed. Unlike several thousands trapped at the actual border, Mohammed is fortunate to be in a hotel in Cairo. Like his fellow Gazans, however, he is waiting in limbo, and frantic. At 22, he is the oldest of seven children and the head of his household. His mother and brothers need him home most urgently.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv has asked Israel to permit Mohammed to cross at Rafah, but Israel has refused to reopen the border. Our embassy asked if Mohammed could return through another border—Allenby or Eretz—but Israel will not deviate from its very stringent rule: a Palestinian must return through the same crossing from which he left.

According to the American staffmember we spoke with, the U.S. Embassy does not have the “horsepower” to convince Israel on its own. This person suggested we generate “high level interest” to convince Israel to reopen the Rafah border for “humanitarian reasons.”

We have written Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to ask for her intervention. Now we are asking members of Congress who care deeply about peace in this region to ask Israel to open the Rafah crossing and allow the thousands of Palestinians stranded there to return home.

Mohammed’s nationwide speaking tour built bridges and sparked peaceful dialogue. C-SPAN covered his talk and rebroadcast it seven times, generating wonderful responses from around the country. Please help this young journalist return safely home to his family, who need him during these uncertain times in Gaza.


Andrew I. Killgore

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