DURING THE SECOND INTIFADA…the conflict back in 2001/02 between the Israelis and Palestinians, I worked with the media in both Gaza and the West Bank for a period of 18 months.
It was tough and it was bloody, but the Western journalists that I worked with rolled their sleeves up and got stuck into the story. On the ground in both places were Western journalists competing and mingling with their local competitors. All were brave, all were professional…and all were telling the story from all sides of the conflict to the best of their ability.
I hear the excuse today that the Israelis won’t allow us (Western journalists) into Gaza!
Well, that was the case back then too for periods of the intifada. We however found a way to enter Gaza or enter areas closed off in the West Bank also. At one stage I walked with all my kit for about 3 miles including through a quarry, going around Israeli security cordons and defences to get into a “closed military area,” a term that the Israelis use to keep the media out. News gathering is about going the extra mile, it’s about finding a way to explain to the world what’s going on…and it can still all be done safely.
I know for a fact that if a Palestinian or Arab journalist is reporting for a Western news network they aren’t taken as seriously by say people in the UK or the USA as a Western journalist reporting the very same story. Some think that the “local” journalist may have a bias towards one side, some just want to see Western journalists as they feel more comfortable with their reporting.
That’s the truth of the matter, even though I understand having worked on the ground with them that the local hires are every bit as good and in many ways better than the Western journalists. However, as it’s all about the trust factor with Western viewers, I’m astonished that there isn’t one Western journalist covering Gaza from the ground right now.
Apart from the ability on the ground to enter Gaza from various options, such as embedding one’s self and small team with an aid convoy for example, I would personally like to see the various Western networks’ bureau chiefs get together and confront the Israelis, suggesting that there is a need for Western journalists to cover the story. Allow them to enter with Western security advisers that know Gaza and Israel’s way of handling any conflict there. If the Israelis continue to refuse, then tell them that you will report that fact every 5 minutes to the world.
This should have been planned and executed two weeks ago, knowing that from time to time the pissing match between the two states can combust in a moments notice…there is absolutely no excuse for the lack of Western journalists covering the story on the ground inside Gaza.
Please get a grip and become the fourth estate once again, and allow the people in the West to see complete coverage of the ongoing conflict between the sides…we all deserve to see it through Western eyes, and just maybe then, the Western people will stand up and make their mark on this shambles unfolding in the Middle East.
I have no doubt that if Western journalists were news gathering from inside Gaza, the Israelis would be more selective in their targeting of civilians.
Just watching the footage that is coming out, I can’t help wondering what world opinion would do to the Northern Ireland conflict if the British military dropped a 1000lb bomb on a block of flats in Belfast because it housed an IRA man and his family way back when!