Over the years, NPR has relied on Anas Baba to be its eyes and ears within Gaza. This past week was no exception.
The Palestinian producer interviewed civilians seeking shelter from Israeli airstrikes at Gaza City’s main hospital, where hallways were crowded with the wounded and dying. Later, he called in an eyewitness account of young children traveling on foot for dozens of miles in an attempt to evacuate the city. The reporting took “a lot of effort and a lot of luck,” said Aya Batrawy, an NPR correspondent coordinating with Baba from Jerusalem on a story that aired Friday about horrific conditions inside the besieged enclave.
But meanwhile, Baba was contending with challenges that some journalists within Gaza are describing as the worst in memory.
“I was forced to leave my job … to go to my family in order to evacuate them,” he told NPR over a scratchy phone line last week, only to find that other neighborhoods were just as dangerous. “… Where am I going to hide them? Is there any safe place in Gaza?”
The flow of information in war zones is often halting and unpredictable, but given the scale of Israel’s assault — which U.N. experts have warned amounts to “collective punishment” in violation of international law — journalists are facing unprecedented challenges in obtaining and sharing information.
While major U.S. networks scrambled to ship star TV anchors to the relative safety of Israel, journalists within the 140-square-mile Gaza Strip are contending with a massive bombing campaign, electrical and internet outages, food and water shortages, and the psychological burden of reporting on the unfolding humanitarian crisis while living it themselves.
Reporting at Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital, BBC Arabic reporter Adnan Elbursh and his team discovered their own neighbors, relatives and friends among those injured and killed.
“This is my local hospital. Inside are my friends, my neighbors. This is my community,” Elbursh said on-air. “Today has been one of the most difficult days in my career. I have seen things I can never unsee.” [Continue reading…]