Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Behind the scenes of the Kidnap Release

Saturday 26th August 2006
Gaza City 12.45 pm lunchtime

The view from my hotel window in Gaza is of the the sea, Olaf & Steve have a view we do not know. This is without doubt the most important assignment I have ever done in my career spanning back to 1979, when I first statrted in a mail room of a Television Station in Melbourne, Australia.

I arrived down in Gaza midday, and as I waited alone on the Palestinian side of the border in the noon heat of a brutal Gaza summer you could sense that this place has changed and not for the better. The abduction and kidnapping of two of my friends and collegues has changed me and my views on many issues surrounding the Palestinian quesstion. But another time and another blog to reflect that.

The biggest and most major change is now our private security down here. The negotiation team is being lead by Ken La Corte (Fox News Senior VP), along with Ibrahim Hazboun (Fox News Producer) and now myself in the mix and with the most important person here in Gaza Anita Mc Naught. Olaf's wife, if anyone has ever wanted a role model of how a lady remains under control in the most incredible and intense pressure of your life look no further.

We cannot move a step even inside our hotel without a fully armed guard taking a step behind us, I have never had really full personal security and the guys we have from the Palestinian Authority are the elite units . These are the complete package with body armor and lots of weapons, nobody and I mean nobody will mess or in any way harm us.

We have only one and one sole aim and that is to ensure the release of our friends and the full resources from all levels are being used to negotiate this.

There are honestly not enough words in any language to describe the strength and power that I have seen in Anita, from the moment I embraced Anita upon arriving here and my first words of "olaf is going to be OK and I will be here for as long as it takes" we have strengthened our bond of friendship and commitment to getting our guys out. She is incredible and so strong and then later in the night talking in her room she held out the photo of Olaf she has been carrying, and for a moment the strength she carries she slipped and in her eyes you could see the tear and fear of a wife. The photo is now wearing out from being handed around for the last couple of weeks, but I knew that it is her most precious personal effect in the world.

It is hard to try and explain what it is like to be in the middle of this situation, I am the new person on the team and hopefully will be the shortest serving member of the team, every hour we get word that in the next few hours and then another word that it could be in the next day or night, then another word that all is well and soon. Like a piece of string there is no measurement or how long, a Gaza hour does not go by a normal clock and we can only wait. We wait and then wait. In the hotel our door are open and we walk between rooms talking , standing, sitting on the floor in bathroom doorways of rooms, telling stories and planning, trying to figure out what is the plan from here on, for the next hour for the next day and for the future.

One of my roles here is obviously a technical role to record and document events in what we hope are the last hours, and yesterday I for the first time in over a month I came back to my crew car and equipment, the same car and gear that Olaf had been using. It was hard to look at the car and not have the memory of what had happened in this very car on a couple of weeks ago. As the afternoon sun was setting Ken and I discussed what video we would need for future Channel coverage and I was asked if I would go out onto the streets and shoot a re enactment at the scene where the kidnap happened. Quietly it was talked about and with New York VP's in the loop I went out quietly with Ibrahim, Arafat the driver, Arafat the Interpreter who had been working with Olaf and Steve up to the minute before the kidnap and the lead security detail guard.

It is a new Gaza now and as we drove up the street into the main city area I could feel the eyes looking at us, the armored car is known by everyone here, all 1.4 million people they all stare at the car as I try to film out the windows. Turning into the street where it happened is a dreaqdful feeling knowing what was to happen to the guys in the matter of minutes and having to figure out how safe am I as I get out of the safe confines of the locked armored car along with my security gunman. For the next fast ten I work as fast as I can to re enact the events from the memory of Arafat the translator who Olaf and Steve had just dropped off.

To have to film this, is emotionally hard, as they are friends and collegues but also important for future records and any thing that the Channel plan to do in the future.

I re enact the scene with the drive up to the last corner they were seen at and then as the sunset of Gaza we head back to the hotel and the full security detail. New York is constantly checking on my status every moment I am out on the streets and are relieved when I get back to the hotel.

How do you explain the roller coster of emotions that thru the night we experience, it is a constant mind game of what if and Anita spends almost every minute either on the phone or texting family friends and contacts around the world. And in the minutes in between as a team we talk, sometimes silly events that are not related to the guys, looking up I see Anitas photo of Olaf on her room mirror and we all know that nothing else matters apart from the release of Olaf and Steve. We wait as the night turns to early morning and a early morning phone call to Anita indicates that the release is soon very soon but not tonight, another Palestinian hour will have to pass.

Sunday 27th August 2006
Beach Hotel Gaza

I woke early, as tired I am, I want the day to start I want the guys released and hope that today day 14 from memory will be the day. The hotel floor is quiet and all our doors are closed as opposed to the way we work here with all doors open and the team walking in and out of all rooms. We had power last night so the air conditioner was working but that means that you do not have water. And Anita walks in as I am typing proclaiming a tactical mistake

" I should of showered last night"

We laugh and head down to the restaurant for breakfast complete with the armed security and sit by the window and talk for an hour, about everything and what if's and what for's. The occasional journalist walks over and tries to get information and we just change the topic to matters like deers on her farm and the vermin problem of kangaroos in Australia to annoy the inisquisitive scribe, when they finally get the point that no information is forthcoming.

Ken and Ibrahim join us for breakfast with the news that water is back on in the hotel and both Anita and I go to excuse ourselves when Ibrahim gently pushes my leg down and quietly whispers to us all that a new tape has just been released, at around 10am a tape was delivered to Al Jazeera in Gaza City. Included in the tape we are told that Olaf and Steve have converted to Islam, the tape is scheduled top be aired in one hour, all we can hear before is an audio recording played down the phone.

For the next hour Anita rings family and friends and prepares a statement for an arranged Press Conference around noon after the tape airs.

A statement is also included in which the guys are no longer refered to as prisoners but a vague reference to being former prisoners.

At 11am we gather around the TV in my room and watch the tape, it is the same background as the first tape and one by one the guys claim conversion to Islam, to be honest we all are confused but our thoughts and emotions are in check as we let Anita prepare for the upcoming Press Conference, but we do add that she may longer be the only wife as Olaf is technically now as Muslim entitled to four wives, we did add that she will always though be wife Number One. It is one of those black comedy moments that we use to try and make light of tense moments.

At midday with the Press assembled downstairs we go down the one flight of stairs with the armed security guards flanking the team, a brief statement read with conviction and a plea for the safe release of Olaf and Steve. The statement lasts less than a minute before we head back up to the rooms and think about the coming hours, as the midday sun is beating down we all think that if the release is going to happen it will not be before the evening now. Anita meets and talks with the New Zeland diplomat in my room and I shoot a few shots of the meeting.

And then i flash the world changed with a few simple words the ordeal after 14 days ended

Niall came running into the room screaming in a voice these simple words


Grabbing the camera I raced into the hall and there coming around the corner was Steve and Anita had jumped into Olafs arms clinging on with the love and passion of a wife who had her husband back, the first photo is the first frame I shot of Olaf and Anita together. I turned and caught up with Steve as he entered the room.

"Steve Steve" I cried out and he turned took a moment to look at me and then with tears in his eyes he said "Mal Oh Mal"

and dropping the camera on the strap we embraced and hugged tears streaming from both our eyes we just hugged his body seemed frail and limp from exhaustion and the emotional release of being free and knowing that we still had to get out of Gaza. In the moment Mohamed took the camera off me and continued to film as I turned out of the room and Olaf and I looked at each other and his words to me me were "Man I am glad thats over" and again we hugged tears streaming down my face as my emotions went unchecked. If you look at the video you see me grab the camera back as we went back into the room and the six of us took the moment to just breath.

Anita and Olaf just hugged and kissed in the room, Steve and I smiled and hugged again as his emotions came out.

Those few minutes were magic, I do not think that any of us will ever forget the bond of joy we all felt, it was over finally over my friends were back alive and safe. And as they proclaimed they had not converted to Islam and had been made to do the video with guns pointed at them out of camera sight. Olaf kept apologising and saying Mal all that went thru my mind in those first few moments was "boy is Mal going to mad with me if the car and gear was taken" "Trust me Olaf I did not care"

We heard snippets of the ordeal and that is best coming from their mouths and not from my recollections, we got Steve's brother on the phone and he cried as he spoke to his brother and Anita reached over and held his hand.

The word was out and the scenes in the hallway became chaotic as moved into the next phase, a rapid Press Conference and hopefully a chance to stop and thank the Prime Minister for his help. Ken Ibrahim and I moved into the logistics of getting out of Gaza as fast as we could. John the Security detail man from the British Consulate and I talked about driving the Armored Cars out and the formations and distances we needed along with the Palestinian Presidential Security detail that would provide the guns to run the streets of Gaza to the border It was going to be a full escort out with guns bristling form there vehicles.

At the same time we also remembered what had happened in Baghdad when after being released a journalist and her guard were caught in an ambush heading to Baghdad Airport, with tragic results.

Bags were packed and thrown together into the mayhem of the hallway with hotel staff and guards helping lug the kit down to my car and the Embassy car.

Palestinian Officials and the Prime Minister came down to the hotel and meet Olaf, Steve and Anita statements and photo oppurtunities followed as we tried to keep things moving wanting to get the guys out of Gaza as soon as we could, as safe as we felt, we also knew that until we were out of Gaza it was not over.

In chaos of the next hour Olaf Steve and Anita did the important thanks to people who had helped and then our final event before the border run and out of Gaza was a final Press Conf with the three of them around the microphones in the hotel dining room, crowded and noisy, where only a few hours before Anita and I had sat alone and uncertain of the what was to happen.

The cars were packed and ready to go in convoy formation Lead Police car, Lead Palestinian Security truck packed with men with more guns than a Hamas Rally, then the British Car to take Olaf, Steve and Anita, then my car with Ken, Ibrahim, Abed and myself followed behind by two more Security vehicles with more guns and sirens.

From the Press Conference it was a mad dash thru the lobby and into the vehicles, being mobbed by Press and Security, these were the moments of tension behind the scene we were now so close, so close to freedom just the drive out to the border. In previous times we have done this drive many times and thought nothing of it, the world has changed now in Gaza is no longer the same.

With sirens blaring we took off, in a scene that can only have parallels in a movie we screamed thru the crowded streets and alleys out, past donkey carts and battered cars and to be honest at any moment in these tense minutes the thoughts of a road side bomb were in my thoughts a final desperate move by the people who had abducted Olaf and Steve. Driving in the way only an Egyptian taxi driver would applaud we hammered out, not stopping or slowing , our only thoughts now to get the team out safely, safely out of Gaza. We stopped once at the Palestinian Checkpoint at the border for a few minutes more bags thrown into the now only two cars crossing back to safety, and just before 2pm we drove the last few hundred meters to the Israelis and as Olaf and Steve stepped out of the car and walked to Passport Control on the Israeli Side we watched from 100 m away as they stepped back into freedom, in my car the four of us shook hands it was finally over.

How did it affect me, in many ways too many ways to express now. Because these moments belong to Olaf, Steve & Anita.

No matter what happens in the future, in those minutes of reunion we had the world to ourselves and I will never forget those minutes, if you want to define courage and bravery then my friends Olaf, Steve and Anita you are true role models for any of us to try and achieve.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Olaf & Steve - The Release

I have written an account of the last twenty four hours of the behind the scene of Steve and Olafs Kidnap and release. However I will not publish until the guys have given their first interviews later today. There's is the story you want to hear, mine well tomorrow I will let you see it after they have talked. Also more pictures will follow, but this one is the moment Olaf and I met

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Free & Safe - Olaf & Steve

The guys are out safe and free, I have spent the last twenty four hours down in Gaza and was there when they ran up the stairs. To be there was without doubt one of the best moments in my career to see my friends safe and well and as a member of the small team we had there. You could not help but cry with the pure joy of life
More later for the moment there are things to tidy up and reflect, then I will write the last 24 hours up in detail
To all of you who had them in your thoughts and prayers
Thank you from the bottom of my heart

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Refreshed Renewed and Ready

I honestly believe that I do not like time off, there is always the sense in this part of the world that you miss armageddon. I must also point out that there is such a place where armageddon is scheduled to happen and yes it is in Israel. The place is called Meggido, lots of early ruins and every now and then a congregation of doomsayers gather there, for me it is just a junction on the way to Jenin in most cases, but it is cool to go past Armageddon on the way to a job.
The office has given me some time off and I have actually enjoyed myself, found a new home to live in and when I move in will post the sipping champagne on the balcony photo, if i tried to move closer to the beach I would have to sleep in the water. I like seeing the sea and since in most places like Iraq the mere thought of the ocean is a long way off. Managed to catch up on a movie, Pirates of the Carribean 2 who doesnt like a sword fight and have just relaxed working out twice to three times a day at the gym to get back into physical shape.
When I was new to the news business it was full of drunks and hangovers, now to suceed at the International level in our game it takes a extreme high level of fitness nowadays to be competitive 24/7 takes a lot of perssonal training and commitment and that is often not known by many aspiring photographers. It does not mean that we do not get together and party at times but the next day it is always back to running and the gym to stay in shape, even in Iraq I will run and go to the gym at bases, in the desert I just allow the days activities to account for a workout.
So refreshed renewed and ready lets see what tomorrow holds, keep Olaf and Steve in your thoughts, they are never far from mine.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Even Sergi had no Answer

If truth is the first casualty of war , then surely Hertz rent a car will claim the car I have at the moment as a victim of war crimes. An innocent sedan whose life has been shattered and Sergi my man at the car wash looked deep into my eyes and shook his head, there was nothing that either he or Ivan could do.
They had tried the special spray, blasting the car with high pressure, scrubbing with a brush and even thought about running the car through the car wash a second time free of charge. The Tunnel Car Wash takes pride in its claim to be the best and yet there was nothing they could do.
It looks like the only saalvation will be a protracted Insurance claim by Hertz wanting to know just exactly what happened to their car.
The report will read something like this.

Letter to Hertz Rent a Car Insurance Division

"During the recent Israel/Lebanon war your vehicle was used on the frontlines, sorry we forgot to mention that when we hired it. During one afternoon cannot remember which day , the Hezbollah had fired a particulary heavy barrage of Katusah rockets into Israel. One of these rockets exploded near an Israeli Tank Parking area. In fact not that close but in between the now burning undergrowth and the tanks, were the refuelling tankers, you know those big fuel tankers used for hauling petrol and diesel, so here are flames rapidly approaching thousands of litres of highly flammable explosive fuel.
Fox News dispatched a team in the aforementioned car who raced to the scene.
Now unbeknown to our team and your car, the Israeli Military had called in a firefighting plane with red fire retardant gel to extinguish the flames before they got to the fuel tankers.
Now somehow the pilot hit the button to release the retardant a little bit earlier than he should of and as a result the car was totally covered in red gel glob masses of this retardant.
Yes we admit totally to the extent that if a passing Doctor had been passing he would of diagnosed a severe almost terminal case of Chicken Pox.
Now all local car washes in the North were closed due to War, a reasonable excuse not to open. So for a week or so in the heat of summer this retardant with chemicals unknown to mankind without a security clearance has been baked on to the car.
We have tried to clean it up, but hope that you will in the National Spirit of War and being all together in the fight against terrorism, that you will see the damage to your car as an act of International Terrorism and thus accordingly take Hezbollah to a UN sanctioned war crime tribunal to seek damages and not blame us for getting your car sprayed with red dots that even Sergi could not clean."

How do I ?

Relaxing charging the battery and waiting for the war drug to get back in the system and drag me back out to some great and exotic location.


Silly question but would like to be able to link to others, like you

Looking forward to your help

Till then

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday Morning

Thanks to all with kind words and concerns re leaving the North. It is ahrd to explain that you can drive two hours and be back in normal society and having just left a war zone behind you.
They talk about Post Syndrome and they do exist I still wake up and think I am in Metula and will have to drive down to Qiryat Schmona, the disorientation you suffer after such intensity is hard to describe. I met with a a group of friends yesterday and it was as if they did not realise what had happened so close to them. And how lucky they are to be where they were standing, they had not heard one siren or one explosion in the past month.
They had not suffered any discomfort and as we stood around a couple even flippantly asked questions on the issue that is the only issue that we are concerned about, and I snapped back and they were taken a back to an extent.
I am back down dealing with issues like finding somewhere to live, trying to get my dog out of the country and trying to get back into training for my upcoming marathon. It may be only a few days and I try to enjoy them who knows where I will be in the next few days.
But once again thanks to everyone for your comments they mean a lot and just when things seem normal I will find something to comment on and let you know that even in the worlds worst places silly things can and do happen

To my daughters, all is well just have to worry about the local drivers here again. Love Dad

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Time Off

Just a quick post to let you know that I am taking a few days off, since June 13 I have had only three days off and the bottom line is that I am burnt out, from a month in Gaza to the war between Israel and Hezbollah it has been a totally emotional and physical drain in the heat of summer.
Standing alone on the roof during the siren raid this morning, i could of collapsed with exhaustion. It is not that I cannot sleep but it has reached a stage that I cannot sleep enough to bring my body back to normal.
I have no where to live and when I check out of the hotel in the morning I am homeless again. So I have to deal with that issue and my dog Molly whom I have to get back to Australia and my daughter BJ. To go thru what I have had to deal with on a personal level in the last few months let alone a war has been so hard.
At the end off the day we are all human and working at this level in these conditions I just want to find a cool corner and get my life back in order and then in a few days I will be back doing what I do best, covering the worst of man and hoping to find an inspiration.
I have only one wish at the moment and that is for my friends Olaf & Steve
Be strong
leaving the north tomorrow morning

" Its a mistake, no fallings"

The message on the blackberry said " According to Kiryat Shmona municipality spox (spokesperson) - its a mistake, no fallings"

At 10.41 am this morning sitting outside the workspace, suddenly the peace of the morning was shattered by the sounds of the Air Raid sirens blaring. Not since the war have I heard the siren and the suddenly my whole body was once again electrified and I found my self alone on the roof there was only Producer Dvora Olinsky and I here.

I ran up to roof grabbing a flak jacket and helmet and stood by the camera wondering if the ceasefire was over and the war was about to resume. Alone in the heat I could look down onto the town and see cars running the red lights and a sense of total confusion in the town below.

Most of the residents who have returned have never heard the full siren, only the polite "Big Sister" announcement advising all residents to go to their bomb shelters. For the shoppers in the market it was terrifying as the tried to find somewhere safe, the market had been hit by a katusah during the war.

You can never relax here, you just go from one moment to the next hoping that the ceasefire will hold. All indications are that it looks good for the short term but everyone you talk to says that is only a matter of time before war breaks out again between Israel and Hezbollah.

I only hope that the person who accidently leaned on the Air Raid Siren button down at city hall has been retrained as to which button not to touch

Qiryat Schmona
Northern Israel

Another day "Keeping Safe Lou, and BJ Remember Turtles" Love Dad

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

When Peace comes to Town

With the ceasefire holding people are coming back to town, the traffic lights that had for 34 days flashed amber are now working again. The reason they were flashing amber is that during a Katusah strike the last thing you wanted to do is sit at the lights, also the fact that there were no people or cars here may of had something to do with it as well.
Yesterday we filmed a man cutting his grass a foot high after being away for the last month at the same time a friend bought out a Katusah and dropped it in front of the camera, this was not staged just another true life moment here.
At the bus station soldiers were singing in celebration as they borded the bus to go back home and across the street shopowners were sweeping up the glass from broken windows and as one coffee shop owner said
" The war may be over, but for me it is just beginning I have to rebuild my business"
Lights were coming on in buildings that had been black for the time we have been here and the sirens have remained silent.
I honestly think that it was the sirens that scared me the most, it is as if "terror" is audible when they start to wail, they screaam to tell you terror is coming at you and we do not know where.
And whilst locals headed for the bomb shelters we stood on the roof and as the sirens died down all you could hear in a city was silence. I could hear my heart beat and blood in my temples and in silence we would wait for the attack.
That is why yesterday was refreshing, standing in the street listening to life coming back.

Another day "Keeping Safe Lou, and BJ Remember Turtles" Love Dad

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Have you heard ....

As I walked back into the workspace last night Mike Tobin sadly said those words "Have you heard about Olaf and Steve they have been kidnapped in Gaza"

My stomach dropped and my face turned to ashe.

Two friends.

Hold them in your thoughts, they are good people.

Northern Israel / Lebanon Border
Day 2 of the ceasefire begins.

Monday, August 14, 2006


It was around 7:45am that three loud booms echoed in the valleys of Southern Lebanon I hope that they are the last rounds of this war. Peace comes in many forms but it is the peace of silence that I am enjoying.

I like hearing birds and tractors in the fields, the sound of a dog barking, a car door being closed and even the woman at the hotel playing a computer game that pinged as she shot something. I like driving along the road and not feel the car shudder as we pass an Artillery battle fire and the Earth move. I like not hearing the sirens blaring warnings of Katusahs incoming and head for the bomb shelter. I like hearing tanks sitting silently in the fields.

But I add that every gun on every tank and Howitizer is still pointing towards Lebanon, We are close to six hours into the ceasefire and like walking on hot coals it can be done but very carefully.

It is also nice not to be wearing body armor and helmets

Another day "Keeping Safe Lou, and BJ Remember Turtles" Love Dad

Numbers to think about

I woke this morning (yesterday) honestly thinking that the ceasefire was due to start at 7 am local, only to find out later that in fact it does not start till 8am Monday morning local time. The dead give away was that my hotel room kept shaking and if anything activity is stepping up in the last few hours before the ceasefire is due to begin.

What is sobering thou is to read how Israeli Newspapers and columns are seeing the war and the basic question of "Did we Win"

These are the numbers from an Israeli Newspaper today, like a football scorecard updated daily to this morning the day before the ceasefire

Number of Israeli Soldiers dead 109
No figures released on the numbers of injured but the number is in excess of 600
Civilians Killed 40 and more than 600 wounded
This alone more than 51 have been injured by Katusah
The number of katusahs fired into Israel since the start of the war has exceeded 4000
More than 1000 of them have landed in Qiryat Schmona where I have been based
The number of Lebanese dead is unknown but 1000 would be a good base figure to start on
Israel has nearly 30,000 troops inside Lebanon
The 3 Israeli soldiers kidnapped (1 Gaza 2 Lebanon) are still being held and are not considered part of the ceasefire agreement
In most operations involving Israeli tanks at least 50% of them are hit by anti tank rockets supplied by Iran

Behind every number is a mother father brother and sister, every family here lives in fear for their sons and daughters, every son and daughter worries for their best friend.

As I type the sound of war continues and another number will be added to the list above.

I look out into the darkness of the night into Lebanon and see only the red flashes of artillery and the sound of gunfire.

Northern Israel / Lebanon Border
Eleven hours away from the ceasefire

Sunday, August 13, 2006

alone in the black

It is now nine thirty and I am alone in the black of the night.
Listening and seeing the war reach its climax.
The night is black with no moon and all you sense is the sounds of death.
Many people think what a glamourous job I have at times but I am wearing a sweat shirt that two of us share because it is the only warm thing we have between us.
We rotate who wears in and out I wear the in and believe me I smell.
Just had two israeli snipers up on the roof with me so sometimes you are not so alone in this world.
Carried the picture live whilst one rang his mother in new york to ask if she could see him .
Yet the hours and the cold wear on
Mum thinking of you and dad love your son

I will believe when I see it

As the sunsets on the hills of Lebanon the ceasefire looks in tatters before it begins. Just crossed the wires that the Lebanese cabinet has postponed its meeting to deploy its army to the south to displace Hezbollah.
As I write this on my blackberry between shots more and more Israeli tanks are entering Lebanon. NOT leaving entering the area.
Our vantage point here let's me see four villages and from most of them you hear small arms fire the plumes of smoke from shelling.
Why can't we all play nice
Five katusahs have just landed next to our vilage another day ends in hell and the night has not begun
Be good girls love dad

Counting the hours

Driving back to Metula to the eagles nest live shot position. We stopped by the Mike Tobin team sitting by the truck with a field of tanks behind them. That's normal here in our world, if not tanks then Howitzer batteries.
The first thing Mike said was
" Ok who wants to bet when the ceasefire will collapse" the best time anyone in the team gave was one hour. Yoav even said that it will not even start.
It then became an argument on the technocalities as to the bet.
So rather than lay the shekels down we all agreed that the cveasefire will collapse.
Israelis I have spoken too are annoyed as a whole because they have lost and are now perceived by the Arab world as weak.The might of the much vaunted Isareli Military machine and their so called best in the world intyelligence agencies have been humbled by Hezbollah. The locals are very pissed off at the Government and the Miltary Leaders.
Writing a longer piece on Numbers. This is just a few quick thoughts from the roof of the Alaska on my combat blackberry.
The question is though will Uri turn back up and do I have a spooon in my back pocket
Now does anyone want to make a bid for my genuine combat uri spoon.
Miss you girls love

Do you have a spoon

In my job you have moments that defy anything you could possibly imagine, that unless you actually had been there people would almost doubt that something as far fetched did happen.

Well last Friday was one of those incredible, moments standing on the roof of the Alaska Inn in Metula, 500 m from the border of Lebanon. The sound of Howitzers pounding shells into Lebanon, rows of tanks below engines idling before they enter, humvess full of Special Op's cruise the streets below faces painted and the whole valley in front of me lies Lebanon.

Just before we started the two hour show block with Bill Hemmer, up the stairs come two people one with a small handicam. Battlefield tourists are not unusual, as crazy as it seems tourists are stupid enough to come up and want to see what is happening with there little handicams.

One of the guys walks up to me and this is what he says. I kid you not .....

"Hi, my name is Uri Gellar do you have a spoon on you I can bend it for you"

What the hell is Uri Gellar doing on the roof I have no idea, but here is one of the most famous psychic spin doctors in the world, featured in countless TV program's magazines and Newspaper Columns, asking me if I have a spoon on me.

Now I normally do not carry a metal spoon on me, I mean how many of us carry a metal spoon on them expecting to meet the worlds most famous spoon bender on the roof looking into war.

I had ten minutes before the show started, I raced down five flights of stairs into the hotel kitchen back up in the elevator and up the stairs to the roof pass my spoon to Uri and one two three he rubs it and the bloody thing bends it was a moment that I will laugh about for years.

He gets a sharpie (texta) marker out and signs it for me, whilst the rest of the team here are collecting Katyusah parts as souvenirs to try and take home and get through airport security. Me, well I have a bent spoon

Another day "Keeping Safe Lou, and BJ Remember Turtles" Love Dad

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ceasefire, Tanks in Tanks Out

After the negativity of the previous day, until the early hours of the morning I broadcasted history.

It was one of those days when from late afternoon until the early hours of the morning historical events where unfolding around me and in my ear. More on the ear bit later.

We had the UN saying ... oh I think we have a ceasefire deal ..... Israel comes out whilst we are doing Bill Hemmers show live 500 m from the border of the two countries in the village of Metula on top of the hotel roof, and says no deal "Mass Ground Invasion" to commence and from our vantage point we can see the actual tanks rolling into Lebanon and the tank shell streak thru the night sky and when Israel lets off a Missile Battery into the night sky it is something to behold. WE had shit happening all around us. Suddenly the UN tweaks resolutions and also shits itself as by all standards this situation is has become very very dangerous for all, and where is Mal sitting on the roof with Night scope Len watching it all happen, then late in the night as the Tanks are rolling and the shells are pounding. Israel says OK Ceasefire Sunday Morning after the weekly Cabinet Meeting, the Lebanese meet this morning to agree to the terms.

I am not going to bore anyone with "Terms and Conditions of the Ceasefire" But if you look at it from a funny side , just imagine both Presidents having to log onto "UN SECURITY COUNCIL dot COM" and having to left click on the " I AGREE" button

It is amazing what the night scope lens can pick up we could literally work with no lights apart from the street lights five floors below and if anyone moved they would cast a shadow over Bill's face, I could zoom into Lebanese Villages a couple of miles away and pan along deserted streets and the good thing about it all is that we are in the dark and effectively thus not a sniper target for any Hezbollah trying to pick off Infantry troops as the move up in country.

We ended up working thru till three am in the morning after the Prime time Main Bulletin "Fox Report" It was an insane intense day of being in the eye of the storm where all around you is chaos and doom, then the wind shifts and suddenly you are under attack and rockets land within 100 m off our position and I have it on tape, on a normal day (is there such a thing as a normal day here , be real here Mal, you are in a "WAR ZONE") the tape of the Katusah slamming thru the roof of the High School would be lead video on Prime time Bulletins.

How strange it was to listen to us all talk in the dark last night, the mood and atmosphere of events so different from the previous 24. When you are the closest live camera to the border and seeing history unfold, I reflect that my job takes me to incredible places, sometimes some are just better than others.

It is an amazing rush to watch world history.

But life on the road always has a moment which no matter what makes you laugh, by the time we all got back to the hotel at 3:30 in the morning. Saying good night in the hallway , you hear the magic words "Oh No" Scott Heidler had managed to break his key in the lock of the door. And thus we then spent the next twenty minutes trying to help him get into his room, in the end he had to climb over the balcony from my room into his.

Waking up this morning, I should add that the ceasefire does not start for another 24 hours and outside my window the blast of artillery continues into Lebanon.

Northern Israel Lebanon Border
Saturday August 12 2006

Keeping Safe as I can Lou, and Remember the Turtles BJ Love Dad

Friday, August 11, 2006

peace and war

Just watching war from the roof of the alaska inn hotel in northern israel. Tracers rip across the sky and tanks enter into lebanon .
It is one of those nights of history

Negative Thoughts

Negative Thoughts

Northern Israel Lebanon Border

At the end of the day, it is hard to sit and write about the events of today and not dwell on negatives. It is because I am so tired physically and emotionally, when you spend the night having your room shaken, and yet I can now sleep even without the noisy air conditioner to dampen the outside sounds of Hell having a party next door. Only to open your curtains and scene a from a WW1 battlefield is your first glance at the world for the day.

The valleys of Southern Lebanon this morning were nothing but plumes of smoke from shelling. An interesting point to keep in mind is that whilst the Israelis are proclaiming to the world about the 3,000 Katusah shells that have rained down across the North of Israel in the last month, it was revealed today that Israel has just surpassed firing and dropping 100.000 shells and bombs into Lebanon.

Last night was like listening to a loud rock concert the sheer volume of shelling and machine guns and at the same wondering if there small children hiding in cellars underground. across the valley in a Lebanese village. See yet again another negative thought, it is as if I am finding the events here negative. One of the first casualties of war is truth.

I am currently with Anchor Bill Hemmer and Boston Senior Producer Andrew Fone, along with one of the best guys in the business Engineer Yoav Shamir. Doing Bill's show live from the border two hours of live TV.....

We had Air Raid Sirens. 2 Katusah's landing on nearby hills, Massive 500lb bombs falling onto towns, Machine gun fire behind us, Israeli tanks inside Lebanon, Israeli Infantry troops marching up the road into Lebanon, and a darn nice sunset, not bad I thought given we were on top of a hotel with a Force 10 gale blowing. I got so cold after spending three hours up there that I could not undo the cables from the camera, that is how a wind can sap the last remnants of energy from your soul.

At the end of that, the ONLY phone call I got was to say " we did not file promo material as requested ", the fact that I did not know we had to file "promo" material was not an issue. But then again I could of set up lights, stood on a roof and been a target for Hezbollah snipers for the sake of the second floor wanting it "asap" back in New York.

Sorry, but I cannot give you more war than that " LIVE ", must remember tomorrow, to check if the promotions producer in NY needs more two word promotions.

Another day "Keeping Safe Lou, and BJ Remember Turtles" Love Dad

... Lou and BJ are my daughters ... just fyi

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Something other than war

I think it is time not to talk about war for a post but a totally different aspect of life in the war zone. Obviously the local paper shop is not open, in fact there are only three shops open in the entire city. If there are any papers available they are in hebrew and what you miss can often be something like a newspaper, so you can read about water sking squirrels and sport.
Now two of the girls were coming back from a few days off and when they called to see if we wanted anything all the camera guys and engineers requested some magazines.
Now a group off ten guys you would expect some "bloke" magazines and car magazines, maybe the odd copy of Soldier of Fortune.
Oh NO .... Not our girls is a list of what magazines came up to the frontline

6 ... yes 6 copies of The New Yorker
Vanity Fair
Harpers Magazine
US News and World Report
The Jerusalem Report
Metropolitan Home
and the best one a December 2005 edition of Architectural Design " The International magazine of Interior Design"

Just waiting for the day when I bring up some magazines for the girls.

Can I just walk in the door

Simply want to be able to walk in the door at the workspace in the morning without the sirens going off for incoming Katusahs, for all its power and strength. The war is not going well for Israel, they even changed the Chief of Staff General who is in control of this whole war and his deputy is now running the show.
The intensity of ground fighting was unbelievable last night not only was there the normal artillery and tanks firing, the new sound is machine guns going on and on for nearly an hour in the early morning the only sound was that of machine guns cracking the air. These are close Lebanonese villages that two weeks ago Israel had declared empty and had control over.
For the first time the Israeli Govt is moving civilians out of the towns of the North and paying for them to go to hotels in less dangerous areas, during July the number of Katusahs falling in Israel was in the one hundred range, since the start of August it is now closer to 200 a day.
Yesterday I could not even walk in off the roof before the air raid sirens would go off again, at one point it was 3 two minute siren warnings in under ten minutes, and being out in the heat wearing flak jackets and kevlar is no fun.
The morning heat is the worst here the air does not move and you stand literally at the gates of hell looking into the furnace.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Helmet , Jeffs Story

Sunday, August 6th, 2006
Kiryat Shmona

It’s starting to feel like we’re in the middle of a round of Russian roulette. Except here, it feels like there’s more than one bullet in the chamber, and this is clearly not a “game.”

Every day I’m here, the rocket barrage seems more violent and better coordinated. Today’s attacks were unprecedented. The Israeli military estimates 50 rockets slammed into the Kiryat Shmona area today over the course of a half-hour span — the most intense barrage of any stretch over the course of this war.

One of my colleagues is a strong barometer of the escalating threat.

Yesterday, for the first time during his three-week war posting in Northern Israel, photographer Mal James put on a flak jacket. This morning, he started wearing a helmet. And by this afternoon, after the day’s fatal barrage, I noticed he had carefully affixed a piece of yellow duct tape to the back of his helmet. “O Positive. OK Penicillin.” It’s his blood type, written in indelible ink. Mal is a battle-tested journalist with several wars under his belt, including the second Iraq war. That yellow tape left an indelible impression.

My crew remains among the few people in our work space still riding out these Katyusha attacks, outside of the bomb shelter. However, my producer, a sweet, hard-working Israeli woman in her mid-twenties, has reached her limit. When an air raid siren wails, she now heads for the bomb shelter. And I don’t blame her. Today, she e-mailed to my Blackberry a request from New York for a report.

The five days of intensified rocket attacks are starting to take their toll on the Israelis. Many wear the stress on their faces. After today’s hammering, I noticed tears welling up in the eyes of the young female receptionist. She doesn’t speak much English. I asked her if she was upset watching her country get relentlessly bombarded. “Yes,” she meekly replied. “And, for all the young soldiers.


I am so exhausted from the events of the last few days, Yesterday we did not get out of Flak jackets for nearly eight hours. I even said as a joke as we were coming of the roof after one siren alert that it was not worth taking them off, I literally stepped back into the mcr ops (technical area) where we wait and as I crossed the door the sirens went off again and so it was back out to the camera position.
Even Eli Fastman my boss is wearing his flak and kevlar helmet, the first time he has worn a helmet since he finished his reserve duty. If Eli is wearing his, it means we are in danger and if his team is going to do live coverage he will be there with us.
During one barrage yesterday afternoon we heard the sound of an incoming Katusah and he just screamed
and we all literally threw ourselves to the ground, whilst we were on air, trust me no heroics of standing by the camera and filming everyone else on the ground. I am on a platform about 2 feet up off the ground and I literally dove off into the piles of cables and tried like all off us to get under the platform.
15 seconds later I was back up on the camera
You could feel the cold sweat on your back and a taste of metal in your mouth, the rush of blood in every vein, every pulse beat and the sweat dripping down your face from the heat of wearing the helmet. I looked at my eyes when I got and they were red from exhaustion. My whole body is reaching a point of numbness.
I run in the morning at the village we stay in just to know that there is a real world out there, listening to my favorite podcast Phedippdations by Steve, he lives near Boston and talks about what is good in the world and running. It is simple things like listening that I enjoy in these eaarly morning hours because when I finish my run I know that the sounds of war will consume the rest of my day.
The day has only started
There is no glamour in war it is exhausting and dangerous
Just trying to keep safe Lou, love dad

Monday, August 07, 2006

More Footage , Off air Katuasah Attack Live

Found this website "johnny Dollar" hey i did not know it even existed he records via Tivo and uploads , fantastic quality - This is from last week when we were live and under a complete barrage attack , this was one of those incredible live days . If you want to get a sense of what we are doing here follow the link, or cut and paste any problems let me know ... as we say good TV from the frontline

Bad Hair Day

Check out this link , better quality than my videoblog , was on Prime News Broadcast last night . The helmet covers the fact i was having a bad hair day ...
Hope you enjoy it

Qiryat Schmona
on a day when I have not taken off my flak jacket

Jeffs Blog - From Fox News


"Play nice," screams Mal James, directing his verbal fire at both Hezbollah and the Israel military. It’s a downright comical announcement. He made it a few times yesterday, and now a few times this morning too, after the crushing boom of a 155mm Israeli Howitzer cuts through the air.

Neither side in this war listened to Mal yesterday. No one would today either. Not that Mal expects his order to command any attention.

RRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. RRRRRRRRRRrrrrr. The air raid siren cranked up early on this Friday. Considering what the alarm is supposed to presage, I don’t find the sound as ominous as perhaps I least not yet. There’s no time to dwell upon your surroundings or upon the danger, just time to react.

It’s just three days into this posting, and I am already getting somewhat accustomed to certain routines that should be downright dismaying. I can swing my flak jacket over my body and button up, without breaking stride (my best time is about ten seconds). I can eat a meal al fresco amid a raucous cacophony of war noise. And I can translate the body language of Bureau Chief Eli Fastman as to whether it’s outgoing Israeli or incoming Hezbollah fire:

When Eli repeatedly wags his index forward, with the same sense of deliberateness as a teacher lecturing an elementary school kid, that’s the sign for outgoing. When he raises his index finger in the air, and holds it like a parent about to tell his child something important, that’s the sign to stay alert. And when he twirls his index finger in rapid fashion, with the same motion as a New Year’s Eve reveler, that’s the sign for incoming. The latter is the sign you don’t like to see.

Today, we didn’t even get a sign. The rockets showered Kiryat Shmona so quickly it’s as if the rockets were coming out of an automatic machine gun. BOOM! BOOM! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. BAM! ZZZZZzzzzzzzzz. BAM! You have no idea when a Katyusha rocket is headed your way, but if you hear their signature echo, you know they are close. Often, it’s too late. Imagine Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader engaged in a light saber fight. That buzzing WHOOSH is kinda how a Katyusha sounds before its violent life ends in an explosion.

As fate would have it, we were getting ready to go live on the air for FOX & Friends, when a barrage of Katyushas started screaming into our world. For about 15 minutes, it was as if the gates of Hell had opened, and we were invited to watch.

BOOM! BAM! ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. BAM! BAM! BAM! It seems everytime I tried to collect my thoughts, a fresh strike forced me to steer my talking points to a different side of the mountain, or a different side of the city, or a different farm field. The strikes were EVERYWHERE! The action was intense! ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! I caught just the tail end of the rocket as it streaked over the top of our building, coming within 500 yards of nailing our workspace. It’s at this point, that I leaped to the ground to take cover. It’s at this point that this war became acutely real.

Over the course of those 15 minutes, more than 40 rockets would slam the greater Kiryat Shmona area, killing one person. Two others were killed by rocket attacks, raising the Katyusha death toll to 30. Sobering numbers on a sobering day, a day in which you are forced to take stock of your life and how quickly it can all end

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Levels of dress

I am the first to admit that I do not own many clothes and my ideal world is shorts and a T Shirt, but the following series of three photos show how things have changed here in the last few days. I call it the levels of perceived danger and how my clothing mood changes

Sunday 2pm Northern Israel

The video has been uploaded and will be available soon , uploading via you tube , it is in there server and will be ready soon I hope.
Sorry for delay , but this morning has been hell here, the UN may have a peace deal in the works BUT the impact of war is horrific here today in Northern Israel the death toll is high very high.
I have been trying to upload images all day but the power has been affected due to a strike here, and when I mean strike it has nothing to do with labor. And that means we lose Internet.
I am typing this entry in my flak jacket, not worth taking it off, as soon as I take it off, the sirens start.
We do not go on the roof without flaks and kevlar helmets and earlier today it really went to s... , more reflections later
There is nothing glamourous about war, nothing.

Videoblog #2 - Under Attack

We had intel that a Hezbollah attack was planded for 16.45 , watch what happens

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Video to Come

End of Day ... Tomorrow will post reflections and upload the video to larger a file to do tonight , too tired so tomorrow will have time to upload the video .
Worth watching ... a complete behind the scene look at how we cover the war under live attack

and Lou " trying to keep as safe as I can, love Dad."

Quarter to Five

The boss was right more to follow, again for the fourth day we have been katusah slammed

Quarter to Four

The boss walked past myself and the engineers Mark and Ric and said

"quarter to four"

Well at three twenty that simply means that the intell he has indicates that in twenty minutes we are going to be underattack.

lets hope his intel is wrong

3.35 pm
Qiryat Shemona

Oznets Question

Oznets Question

Saturday August 5th 2006
Northern Israel/Lebanon Border

Reflecting back on yesterday and the Hezbollah attacks on Kiryat Schmona, was best summed up by our young Producer Oznet. A couple of hours after the attack I came across her sitting by herself in the building, she looked up and said

"Can I ask you a question"

"Yes, of course"

"Were you scared up there on the roof, when the missiles were coming in"

The question required me to stop and think for a second, because there was a minute up there when a Katusah screamed just over our heads and landed a 100m away, I think my word at that moment was

"Shit, that is close, you have about half a second between the whistle and the impact, so long quotes and prophetic words are not possible, "shit" is about all I got out as I was swinging the camera.

I tried to explain that when filming war, I am seeing it thru a lens, I do not get to watch the war I am on a complete and psychotic rush of adrenaline that pumps you. I switch into this zone of pure concentration, the world is now only a lens.

It is also important to give viewers the impact and sensation of being there, taking them to the attack. we were live yesterday and the anchors on the Breakfast show were just gob smacked with the rush and the drama of what they were seeing.

Perhaps it is why I often write about the sounds of war , that is what I experience and feel more than anything else. I never get to watch the horror of war, I hear it and feel the physical percussion of air being sucked up as artillery shells are fired.

You do not have time to be scared, every nerve in your body is at its limits. It feels like when you stretch a rubber band till it nearly breaks, that is what it feels like to be filming war. It is a powerful drug, but like all drugs it can also be deadly and that is the more sane and sober side.

Oznet is young and scared, I cannot imagine the thoughts that ran through a young girls mind as she watched rockets rain down in here country. It is good to be scared Oznet, remember that.

And for my daughter Louise, who said to me " Keep Safe Dad"

Trying my best darling, trying my best .

Friday, August 04, 2006

Videoblog Entry - Air Sirens in Northern Israel

This is my first attempt to add a videoblog element to the Unholyland News, one thing is that it is hard to give you the best impact as that is when my camera is live and my little video is by my side
Hope it works , you may be directed to another site "You Tube" come back and let me know how you liked it

Kiryat Rain Photos

More reflections later ... Here are some photos of the aftermath

Katusha Rain

Just after 2 pm the siren went off again , then quiet , then a minute later when Jeff had started his report the sirens went off again whilst we were live and then the sound of incoming Katushas rattled the city and for fifteen minutes it f.....g rained katushas all live .... war in real time live around the world

more reflection tonight , as the boss said all things come to those who wait and not always nice

First Siren 12.17pm

The first siren wail of the day 12:17 pm (5:17am) run onto the roof I am never more than 30 seconds from the camera, I like being even closer, tape is always running even when locked off on the sticks.
Nothing in Qiryat, but up at Metula where our hotel is they had hits from Katusahs
As we walked off the roof, The boss said "All things come to those who wait, not always good things

You are here

Couple of Newspaper Headlines

First Up map of area from strikes the other day , I am in Kiryat (Qiryat) Shemona, the second is an article of which the headline sums up events in town

It is now nearly noon , Friday
The only thing moving outside is the mercury in the thermometer, brutal heat out on the roof

Play Nice

It has become a trademark of mine now, that whenever the Howitizers fire there rounds I turn and yell at the top of my voice " PLAY NICE". Firing 155mm shells deep into Lebanon, the cannons echo back of the valley and shake the building.
It is Friday morning 9 am local time, 2 am Eastern and the day has begun for the next twelve hours, we sit and wait for sirens. One camera trained on the Israeli Artillery and the other camera focused on the city waiting for the Katusahs to come in.
Yesterday was the worst day so far, I had thought the shelling on Wednesday could not be matched but yesterday the sky seemed to be raining shells at one point.
The Editorial room now has a pile of Katusah Missile parts building up, souvenirs of war.
Will make good door jams one day
No sirens yet 9:30 am

PS Many thanks for all the comments and feedback


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Evening Hour Photo Lebanon Border Roof

Bureau Chief Eli Fastman "The Boss" looks thru the camera with the mega lenses whilst Correspondent Jeff Goldblatt prepares to go live and the Sun is setting

Getting Hammered Again

Wild afternoon, more Katushes streaking into the city over the last 90 minutes , Sirens have sounded more times this afternoon than in the last three weeks, and not the gentle "please go into your shelter" these are the full scream and whining that richochet off everything.
The outgoing artillery is shaking the entire workspace building
As we stand on the roof with every noise, the question?
Outgoing or INCOMING
Both Cameras live to New York as we were gitting hit to the right and the left sides

Now Sunset time is only an hour away and hoping that the afternoon ends with the beauty shot as anchors talk about a day ending with a new record over 100 plus incoming in the last hour alone

I wait for the siren and race back to the roof

The Sunset On Air

Just to show that shooting sunsets , can make it on air.

Noisy Air Conditioners

The crickets are cheeping below my porch, the only trouble is that every few minutes the IDF Artillery range fires deep into Lebanon causing the hotel to shake.

I am not going to bullshit and say that I am staying in a shit hole sleeping in the dark on the dirt. WE have a great hotel, clean sheets, hot water, breakfast and a noisy air conditioner.

No one ever wants to own a noisy air conditioner in their room, but here they help dampen out the sounds of Howitzers firing and you cannot hear the Katusahs landing.

We got slammed today in Israel, the hillside was smoking with nearly a dozen hits at one point all within a couple of km's of the roof space we are working from. They are close and so deadly if they direct hit.....

Yael our Operations Manager here asked if I wanted to go home for the weekend and have some time off, I said no, I 'll go back the weekend after next.

Living in war, makes the world seem very small.

It is the sounds that get to me, .... two vollley's deep, real deep into Lebanon.

I need feedback from everyone that reads, are these rambles?.

Don't just click away from the page ... write a comment. I do read them

Planes just dropped bombs, artillery is shelling.

Going to turn on the air con to max just for sleeping thru the night.

Good night to all or Good Morning

May your air con make a lot of noise

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Profile Picture

Going thru my photo collection showing some of the team here pictures from the Iraq War and found this one taken on the Iraqi Syrian border during a rest stop. It was one of those days when you are absolutely knackered to use an expression.
If any of you want to see any other pix leave a note in the comments have digital collection going back to Afghanistan during the Taliban Days when we were allowed in for a glimpse of life under the Taliban before 9/11

Tape #650

One of those blackberry messages we get , see the Combat Blackberry is the tool of communication, it all comes down to a numbered tape in NY. The only trouble with being under attack at that hour of the morning here it was around 2:30 in the morning on the East Coast, 11:30 West Coast.

To: 157 -Mideast
Sent: Wed Aug 02 05:17:44 2006
Subject: VO- car damage in kiryat shmona

damage to cars and buildings from katyusha missles- Kiryat Shmona

tape # 650 in ny

But one good thing is that I have a tape permantely rolling in the camera on the roof so when the shit went down it was all on tape including as we lined up the position with flak jackets being scramble a katusah hit on the hill directly behind us, now that is not Tape #650 but I know that you are going to be seeing a lot of it today when America wakes up, or wherever in the world you are.

If you get a chance turn on Fox News Channel and watch out for Goldblatt lives and let me know what you think. Always enjoy getting comments and feedback


Photos of Mayhem

After the live shots and with a moment to breath , some photos of the scene here this morning at Qiryat Shemona

30 minutes later

Pulse is racing hard to type
seems to have calmed for the moment
at least a dozen fell within 3 km of us on the roof

The Blackberry War

Email received on my blackberry from a Correspondent this morning - this sums up technology and war.

my blackberry died today.
i hope to have a replacement by the end of the week, but if i'm out of the office, i won't get emails, and i can't get phone calls either.
should have a .......... phone sometime tomorrow...
in the meantime, thanks for your patience, and your support.

If it not so tragically sad .....



Tuesday, August 01, 2006

War and Beauty

August 1st 2006

It is one of the ironies of being a Cameraman, you cannot resist a sunset. It is the magic moment of light you want to capture every day. Normally they are only ever shot for self gratification and end up on the floor of the Editing Room.

The sunset over the ridge line that separates Israel from Lebanon is spectacular and after the last live shot of day hours I framed up the setting sun on live Camera #1 being fed to NY.

If you look at one of the pictures I posted in a "Thousand Words" you can see our second "Tank Camera" with a 33x 500mm lens that trains on Artillery a mile away, it allows me to zoom in and have a Howitizer full frame and this camera is on the second path to NY Control.

And as the sun set they had double boxes up, one box carried the "sunset" the other box had the "Howitizer" both cameras live.

War and Beauty, both live.

Sort of ironic because if they had the sound up they would of heard the artillery pounding into Lebanon as well.

Photogenic Oppritunities.: Contemplation on War

Photogenic Oppritunities.: Contemplation on War

Better than a thousand words

Troop Movements

Tuesday August 1st 2006
Qiryat Shemona
Northern Israel / Lebanon Border

At the end of the day, you wait for the "blackberry" email listing "Troop Movements". This is nothing to do with the war, but an email we get from the bureau which lists who is going where and with whom.

I was trying to calculate the number of people we have covering this War, and last week it looked like this :

1 Bureau Chief
1 Operations Manager
2 Anchors
9 Correspondents
12 Producers
10 Cameramen
2 Soundmen
8 Engineers
2 Satellite Truck Engineers
2 Drivers

And this is only in Israel & Gaza, have no idea how many staff we have in Lebanon.

From the operation in Qiryat Shemona we have two satellite paths to NY , a Fiber optic to NY via jerusalem, Each Uplink Truck has its own path and Jerusalem is also direct to NY via its own path.

When I reflect back to the start of the events that cascaded this the ambush and capture of a Corporal down in Gaza, I was alone with just a Jonathan Hunt (Correspondent) and Niall our local Gaza Producer and one videophone. Looking back in my diary I went down to Gaza on June 13th it is now August.

The last line on "Troop Movements" from the office .... "Be Safe"