July 19, 2006
I hope it's true what they say about the friends you make in combat — that you share a special bond for life. Ever since Israel decided to respond to the Qassam fire out of the Gaza strip with increased air strikes, my crews and I have been through a dizzying, frightening, and arduous few weeks chasing the soldier kidnappings and military responses. Sometimes we shout at each other. Sometimes we laugh until tears stream down our cheeks. Sometimes we are in a situation serious enough to strip you down to the core of your constitution. In the end, we get the story roped in and home to the viewers. My crews have been solid professionals.
My attempts to write blogs along the way have been unsuccessful. By the time we're done with TV reports these days, I'm exhausted, and coherent thought won't come out of my fingertips. So here is a look at the photos I've collected in my personal camera through the last few weeks. Most of the time when things get interesting, we're busy doing things other than taking personal snapshots. But I hope this gives you a behind-the-scenes look and an appreciation for the hard work of my crews.
You'll see a few pictures of Nael Ghaboun in these photos; he is a producer we use in Gaza. Between navigating the confusing maze of streets in the world's most populated place, gathering facts, and just using his general street smarts, Nael is irreplaceable. When he's embarrassed, his whole face turns red, so teasing him about his upcoming wedding has been a great stress reliever.
Cameraman Pierre Zachevsky is one-of-a-kind. It is an understatement to say that Pierre has remarkable stamina. He has climbed all the way to Camp 4 on Mount Everest (the last stop before the summit). Having grown up in Dublin, he has a wonderful, lighthearted, Irish way of remaining positive in the middle of all the rough stuff.
My favorite photo from this bunch is of the three of us together.
There is one pic of Clarissa Ward in here. Don't let her lovely appearance and Yale education fool you into thinking she may be soft. We really got into the thick of it in Beit Lahiya and Clarissa held it together as well or better than any of us frightened "rough boys."
After Hezbollah captured the Israeli soldiers, I went up North with Yaniv Turgeman, Yoav Shamir, Uri Ravid and Yonat Frilling.
Yaniv has been to the scene of almost every suicide bombing in the last three years. He has also perfected the use of the wireless camera. All that great work Jennifer Griffin did during the Gaza withdrawal was done with Yaniv and the wireless cam. The live shot we did several days ago when the Katyushas struck, was all made possible by Yaniv's mastery of the wireless gear. Yoav Shamir can fix everything, and he's trained in combat first aid — he saved a few lives in his army days. When he's angry at the latest piece of equipment I've damaged on the job, I tease him, saying, "Your job as an engineer is to fix the gear. My job as a reporter, is to break it." Uri gets our satellites dialed in, and he's got a field kit in his truck with which he can fire up a mean cup of coffee. That can change your whole perspective on the world.
We didn't have time to stop and pack a bag when we went North. So Yonat went out and bought the crew something to wear. Of course there was not a lot of time for wardrobe choices and she got the guys all the same clothes. I told them they look like backup singers in a rough boy band. I think the pic of Uri, Yaniv and Yoav all worn out, sweaty and matching is a classic.
I have a new crew now in Haifa; Allystair Wanklyn, Dudi Gamli and a new guy named Lavi. I hope he knows what he's in for. I included just one pic of these new guys trying to get out of the sun.
I'm disappointed that I don't have a picture of Ibrahim Hazboun here. He has been back in Jerusalem, keeping track of the video and interviews that come in. I could not do the edited packages for "Special Report" without him. Mal James is also missing, and that ain't right.