Stories written by Mohammed Omer
Mohammed Omer reports for IPS about surviving in the blockaded Gaza Strip. Much of his work arises from his personal experience in the volatile situation of this Palestinian territory. He was the co-winner of the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism 2007.

Iraqi filmmaker Khalid Alzhraou in Rotterdam.  Credit: Mohammed Omer/IPS

CULTURE: Poor Patronage Killing Arab Cinema

Arab cinema, which had a promising presence at international film festivals during the 1990s, may now be going through a declining phase for lack of patronage.

A graduation ceremony in Gaza. Credit: Mohammed Omer/IPS

MIDEAST: Gaza Graduates Search for Vitamin W

"We fast a long time," says Gaza graduate Mona Ismail, 23. "Only to break our fast on a piece of onion."

Some students triumph in Gaza. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Children Have a Way With Miracles

Call it that choice between looking at the half-full or half-empty part of the results. And it is almost half; 55 percent of schoolchildren passed their exams in Gaza this year.

Gazan children protesting at the Rafah border with Egypt.  Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: If Only They Could See

Mohammed Al-Sheikh Yousef could save his eyesight if only he could cross the border out of Gaza. He was denied a permit by Israel; he got one from Egypt, but not for someone to accompany him. And he can't go on his own because he cannot see very well.

MIDEAST: Mourn the Cat That Died

On the phone from Gaza, Zahrah Salem shares the news she has just seen, that so many at the White House were "deeply saddened" by the death of the cat India Willie. Why, she asks, is nobody at the White House deeply saddened by the death of so many children in Gaza.

Looking out to a future in captivity. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Israel Targets Palestinian Students

The letter of acceptance that 28-year-old Hazem Hussain got for a business graduate programme in a Californian university once brought joy. Now he does not know what to do with it.

Journalists protesting against censorship outside the UN office in Gaza. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Everyone Loses in the War of Silencing

So much is missing as you walk down the street along the shops of Gaza. Food and medicines kept out by the blockade enforced by Israel; but also newspapers once a part of the street landscape.

A teachers strike leaves children outside the classroom. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Teachers Trapped Between Fatah and Hamas

A strike call has trapped thousands of teachers between Fatah unions and a Hamas government.

Palestinians have always looked up to Mahmoud Darwish. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Palestinians Lose a Voice

In the death of poet Mahmoud Darwish, Palestine has lost a voice.

In the long wait for gas. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Anything for a Bath, Anything for Fuel

The girl, about 16, is wandering about Jebaliya refugee camp, picking up anything she thinks can burn. She cannot find enough bits of wood, so she gathers plastic bags, old notebooks and even a pair of broken plastic sandals.

It's the time for kites, never mind the border. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Kites Rise Above Divisions

Mahmoud Abu Teior (13) knows it's Abdullah's kite up in the skies, though he has never seen Abdullah. But that kite rises into the skies from just that place on the Egyptian side of the border across from Gaza. And, Mahmoud knows Abdullah's voice because they speak sometimes. They have never met, and likely never will, but they are connected through their kites.

Yousef al-Hums still holds the key to what was once his house. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: The Anniversary Is Over, the Agony Is Not

Holding up an old copper key, Yousef al-Hums settles down to retell the story of his eviction from what was once his home, and now is Israel. Because only the 60th anniversary of the creation of Israel is over, the occupation of home of which al-Hums still keeps a key is not.

It can be a hard life for babies from day one, or even earlier. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Siege Hits Palestinians Before They Are Born

The Israeli siege of Gaza that has restricted access to food, water and medicine is now beginning to hit unborn children and newborn babies.

Nasser al-Amodi can do no more than fix his nets. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Too Quiet in the Harbour

It's been strangely quiet for some time at the port in Gaza. No clanging of hooks, no sounds of creaking cranes or of thumping of nets upon decks. Boat engines, normally puttering and spewing exhaust, lie entombed under covers.

Ismail Haniyeh Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Israel Strengthens Hamas Leadership

The one political result of Israel's attacks and sanctions on Gaza has been that the Hamas leadership, and particularly Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, have emerged greatly strengthened.

The funeral procession for Fadel Shana in Gaza. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Just The Place To Be, And Not To Be

Fadel Shana just had to go to the scene of the Israeli bombing. As a Reuters cameraman, that was his job. He wasn't the only one killed, but through his pursuit of attacks as they happen, he was always more at risk than most others.

Khaled al-Sharqawi taking calls on radio. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: No Ambulance, Call the Radio

"I am bleeding uncontrollably, I need an ambulance." That was not a call to emergency services, it was an appeal broadcast live on radio in Gaza City.

Queuing in hope of fuel. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Gaza Running on Near Empty

Ayman Eid stands as motionless as his orange Hyundai taxi. Never mind taking a passenger somewhere, Ayman has no idea how he will ever get home.

Fine strawberries, ripened to rot. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: Flowers, Strawberries, and Missiles

Just 300 yards from the hidden eyes in the Israeli tank, Ahmed Felfel picks his strawberries. But it isn't the Israelis in the tank who worry him as much as those others who will not let him sell them.

Gathering body remains on a street in Gaza. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: The Son Who Did Not Die, The One Who Did

The family had been mourning for 16-year-old Ahmed Abu Salamah. What was left of what was thought to be his body had been buried. After two weeks of mourning, they found Ahmed alive in the intensive care unit at Gaza City's al-Shifa Hospital.

At a protest in Gaza. Credit: Mohammed Omer

MIDEAST: In Prison, Who Knows Why

You would think the baby boy named Yousef has his life ahead of him. But who knows, with a child born to Palestinian parents from Gaza. What's more, Yousef was born in an Israeli prison.

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