Video Diary – HonestReporting Heads NorthJuly 27, 2006 12:00 by ManagingTeam
Many subscribers have written to us in recent weeks complaining that media outlets have concentrated solely on the suffering of the Lebanese civilian population, ignoring the situation of Israeli civilians in the north of the country. Undoubtedly, Lebanese civilians are suffering greatly and it would be wrong not to acknowledge this tragic situation. Nonetheless, the situation in Israel’s north also deserves attention.
It is difficult to imagine the strain and dangers faced by Israel’s northern communities during the past few weeks. HonestReporting’s International Director and Senior Editor spent a day in Safed, some 20km from the border with Lebanon, and recorded some insights using simple digital cameras.
This city is ordinarily home to 26,000 people, a vast number of whom have fled south to escape the missile threat. Indeed, the north of Israel has witnessed an exodus of around 250,000 people who have packed up and left their homes. Once bustling streets are empty as those who have remained spend their time in bomb shelters or reinforced rooms.
HR staff experienced for themselves the terror of Katyusha missile attack, forced to take cover next to the protection of a south-facing wall as the center of Safed came under fire during the visit.
Safed, a center of Jewish spirituality and mysticism is normally a thriving tourist destination at the height of the summer season. We found a virtual ghost-town, with shops and services shuttered down. We viewed some of the physical damage caused by Katyushas and interviewed a local businessman about the economic damage to the city.
We also paid a visit to the Rebecca Sieff hospital where both military and civilian casualties, including many children, are being treated.
For both Joe Hyams and I, this was a powerful experience and left a timely reminder as to why Israel has to confront and ultimately prevail against the threat that Hezbollah represents for the hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians who find themselves within missile range. We hope that our subscribers will view the raw footage for themselves and let the pictures tell the story.
Please feel free to forward these video clips to local media outlets that do not have journalists in the field, unlike the major broadcasters and wire services who are able to dictate the agenda of the news reporting from the region.
Simon Plosker, Senior Editor
HEZBOLLAH USED UN AS “SHIELDS”?
Israel has come in for much criticism in the media and elsewhere following the tragic deaths of four UN observers in Southern Lebanon as a result of an Israeli air strike on their compound. Israel apologized for the deaths and has launched a full investigation. Indeed, there would be no reason for Israel to deliberately target unarmed UN staff. This story has attracted attention in Canada, the home of one of the men who was killed. In this case, however, the media has looked beyond the automatic knee-jerk response that has accused Israel of deliberate murder.
The Ottawa Citizen writes:
The words of a Canadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in an Israeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using the post as a “shield” to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander in Bosnia.
Those words, written in an e-mail dated just nine days ago, offer a possible explanation as to why the post — which according to UN officials was clearly marked and known to Israeli forces — was hit by Israel on Tuesday night, said retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie yesterday.
HEZBOLLAH’S MEDIA MANIPULATION EXPOSED
According to Rich Noyes, on Monday’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” CNN’s Anderson Cooper related his visit to a Hezbollah-controlled section of Beirut where he was supposed to photograph certain damaged buildings, part of the terrorist group’s strategy of generating news stories about Lebanese civilian casualties caused by Israeli bombs.
But instead of merely transmitting Hezbollah’s unverified and unverifiable claims to the outside world, Cooper – to his credit – exposed the efforts by Hezbollah to manipulate CNN and other Western reporters.
Civilian casualties are clearly what Hezbollah wants foreign reporters to focus on. It keeps the attention off them – and questions about why Hezbollah should still be allowed to have weapons when all the other militias in Lebanon have already disarmed.
After letting us take pictures of a few damaged buildings, they take us to another location, where there are ambulances waiting.
This is a heavily orchestrated Hezbollah media event. When we got here, all the ambulances were lined up. We were allowed a few minutes to talk to the ambulance drivers. Then one by one, they’ve been told to turn on their sirens and zoom off so that all the photographers here can get shots of ambulances rushing off to treat civilians. That’s the story that Hezbollah wants people to know about.
These ambulances aren’t responding to any new bombings. The sirens are strictly for effect.
color=”#800000″>OBSESSION ON AIR
A number of commentators have suggested that Israel’s battle with Hezbollah is part of a wider war being waged by radical Islam against the West. This is the subject of the award-winning film “Obsession”, which will be featured on the Hannity and Colmes show, which will be airing on Thursday 27 July, 9-10pm EST on Fox TV. Live interviewees will include Nonie Darwish, daughter of a Gaza terrorist “martyr” and Obsession director, Wayne Kopping.
For more information about “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West”, click here.