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Gaza Photog Tells Violent story
Brattleboro Reformer (Vermont)

Another photo was of a child, lying injured in his bed.

"This child was cheated by a smile," said Omer, pointing to his picture.

He described the story, saying the boy was walking when an Israeli soldier smiled at him. Curious, the boy walked closer to the soldier, then closer still until the soldier pulled up his gun and shot the boy, leaving him paralyzed.

Omer added that one of the worst parts of the situation there is the contruction of walls, meant to keep people in.

"Gaza is closed. No one can get out and no one can get in," he said.

Omer said he's also been in situations where he was in a bulletproof vehicle, watching as bullets hit the glass in front of him and fell to the ground. A boy outside the car was badly hurt, the entire bottom portion of his body gone. The boy was yelling for help, but the violence outside prevented anyone from helping him.

He described how his job constantly puts him in danger, that he often wears a bullet-proof vest and a helmet. He mentioned that he has stopped riding in the armored cars because instead of being shot at, the vehicles are often bombed.

But Omer expressed the need for the situation to be covered by someone, since it is avoided by many media outlets.

"Who is going to do it?" asked Omer. "It's going from bad to worse."

He adds that journalists in Gaza are often being targeted.

He shared the story of how he was taking photos of attacks in Gaza directly alongside a German photographer when a bullet flew into the shoulder of the photographer next to him, and that man was paralyzed.

If the bullet had moved over just a few centimeters, Omer said, he would have been hit.

Still, Omer emphasized he's committed to the coverage.

"It's in my blood now, I can't leave it," he said. "I started it and I should finish it."

Getting out of the Middle East was a challenge, said Omer. He said Israel considers him a "security threat" and gave him a hard time over a visa to enter the United States so he could speak.

But Omer said he is happy to be in America for the first time. He is scheduled to make many more stops around the country until Dec. 14 when he will return home.

He said he hopes the violence will end so he can return to the United States again, only to talk about the peace process, instead of the killing.

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