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The Perils Facing Arab Correspondents in Lebanon - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Dubai, Asharq Al-Awsat – With Israel continuing to bomb Lebanon for the eighth day, the unrelenting attacks have revived painful memories of the civil war and prompted many families to flee the bombing. Arab correspondents reporting on the unfolding crisis have also faced numerous hazards in their quest to cover the latest developments, especially considering the difficulty of traveling across the country

Who are these war correspondents working to ensure the Arab world remains informed of the latest attacks?

Asharq Al Awsat asked Dr. Nabil al Khatib, the executive director of Al Arabiya channel, about the difficulties faced by the satellite channel’s Beirut bureau. He said telephone contact with correspondents was available but “We have three main problems. The first is the difficulty to travel from one region to another because of operational and security reasons. Therefore we are unable to obtain the coverage we want.”

To illustrate the difficulties the channel is currently facing, al Khatib spoke about Ali Noun, Al Arabiya’s correspondent who traveled last week to Southern Lebanon to cover the latest developments there. When roads were bombed and he ran out of petrol, he was no longer able to travel between villages and report on the latest attacks. “In addition, the power needed to operate the equipment with which we communicate was also running out. This is why we are unable to achieve the coverage we would have hoped for.”

The other problem, al Khatib said, was that, “We are not covering a ground war, where our correspondent can travel close to the action with his/her cameraman and then withdraw from the scene when it gets very dangerous. Dealing with aerial bombings and air raids is very complicated. Many times, the area that is targeted is hit again. An aerial war is a thousand times more difficult to cover than a ground war.”

Finally, many areas being targeted by Israeli jets and artillery, especially in the south, suffer from a lack of equipment and cameras. “What is happening right now in Lebanon is the focus of all the media, which is why we need a high level of modern equipment to broadcast, but this is impossible in the current circumstances.”

Samer Hamza, newsroom adviser at Dubai TV agreed with the above analysis, adding, “Israel does not distinguish between journalists, civilians or officials from the Red Cross or any other civil organization. On more than one occasion, our correspondent Salam Khodr’s life has been in danger, as she covered events in the last four days. We can’t even exchange our correspondent in the south with another because the roads are cut off.”

Dubai TV is now, “mainly concerned with reporting the suffering of civilians because of what is happening.”

For his part, Ahmad al Qorshi, editor-in-chief of the news at MBC said the main priority was to ensure the safety of all correspondents. “Despite the fact that our correspondents take risks while they report on the situation, their safety is paramount. The danger lies in that Israel’s indiscriminate bombing puts everybody at risk. The easiest way to communicate with our correspondents is by telephone.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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