Our television screens are filled with images of massacres and destruction and yet there’s always room for more. There are no signs that the war will not recur. We have become accustomed to watching such news and seeing the images of children taken by death as they sleep in their beds.
Despite being journalists and having to deal with such horrific images through our work, the live broadcasting of war and its atrocities continues to surprise us. The techniques used for media coverage of military conflicts has evolved, however in each war, we relive the feeling that we experienced when we first witnessed death, pain and destruction.
It seems that in each of the wars in our region, which are now successive and frequent, has its own set of journalistic achievements and failures. Ever since the first Palestinian Intifada, scenes of Israel bombing the West Bank and Gaza are continuously broadcast even if media attention to that area has reduced. Who could forget the terrifying last moments of Mohammed Al Durra’s life or the distress that was caught on camera of the young girl on Gaza beach whose family had been killed by Israeli bombing?
During the American war on Iraq, we have seen the fall of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities as the moments unfold. We have seen how victims of explosions have become nothing but statistics and images of hostages being slaughtered and begging not to be killed have failed to leave our minds. We witnessed the scandal of the Abu Ghraib prison and followed the division of Arab media regarding the situation of the war. The crisis is yet to diminish and the number of its victims continues to escalate. However, the media attention given to the plight of Iraq has faded in favor of other tragedies and wars that are more evoking.
The Darfur crisis was a reflection of the media’s “achievement” to conceal this war. We hardly knew about what had happened and what was continuing to happen in the tense and forgotten region. Who cares about the suffering of the poor!
Today we follow the latest scenes of war in Lebanon that has surprised us all. Those who fled the bombings watched their mysterious destinies unfold on the television screens and wondered if their homes would still be standing when they eventually returned.
The numerous disagreements on whether Israel was justified in its pretexts for attacking Lebanon had caused many opinions to remain in the shadows, either force or by choice, particularly those which condemned Hezbollah. It seemed that only those who were quick to support the resistance and its “leader” were allowed to be televised. One by one, the Lebanese victims of this war were shown on the TV screens as they were lifted from underneath the rubble either dead or alive as other cried and screamed in response.
How can one forget the look on Jumana’s face as she watched Israeli soldiers file into her family home and enter the garden where for years her mother had been buried. She did not know whether her mother’s grave remained or whether it had been blown to pieces by Israeli missiles.
The shooting stopped and more images of destruction were disclosed. Hussein’s mother remained under the ruins of Inata for ten days. We saw live coverage of rescue operations as people held their noses from the smell of death that had overwhelmed the area. Just as the bombings were transmitted live, so too were the deaths, funerals, rescue efforts and the inspections of residences. We watched our destinies unfold on television as Israel through its actions guaranteed more material for broadcast.
To make matters even gloomier, the war was concluded with images of the secretary general of Hezbollah, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah followed by a speech delivered by the Syrian President, Bashar al Assad. Away from the cameras, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his threats without showing his face this time!