Saturday, January 03, 2009

Live Blogging Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Coverage of Israel's Land Massacres/Invasion of Gaza

My  attempt to give some sense of what the Arabic Al-Jazeera coverage of Israel's brutal massacres/invasion of Gaza.  All times using US eastern time basis:

10:17pm) Been watching for 15 minutes or so, they had Abdul Lateef al-Qanoo3 on the phone, Hamas' spokesman in northern Gaza.  He was spending a lot of time talking in general terms about how heavy and brutal the invasion was and making a call to recognize that viewers and especially Arab governments were now either for or against the Palestinian people.  He claimed there were heavy losses in the Hayy al-Zaytoon area among the Israelis.  He claimed there were many wounded Palestinians in houses who were not able to reach medical help.

Now they've cut to one of Al-Jazeera's correspondents on the ground, he's running through the various locations in Gaza and talking about sites that Israel has been hitting.  Sorry, was busy typing and missed most of them.  The channel has been showing heavy black smoke and fire in the middle of a densely populated residential district.  I think the correspondent was saying that was a fuel depot attached to Voice of al-Aqsa Radio.

Correspondent saying as of 2 hours ago, saying at least 2 dead at Shifa Hospital from eastern Gaza recently, and latest totals are 477 dead and 2300 wounded at least.  Saying lots of fresh wounded and numbers rising quickly.  Catching bits and pieces as I try to type here, generally sounds like a chaotic situation and really no idea at this point how many really murdered and wounded by Israel.  At least 3 medical workers killed as they tried to rescue people in Jabalya refugee camp.

They've got a constant live camera feed panning around Gaza City and there's lots of explosions going off now.  Correspondent saying several of these are Apache missile hits (my note: if I were an Apache Indian, I would be suing the US and Israeli governments for defaming the honor of my tribe for naming a tool of so much murder after them).

Talking about Voice of Al-Aqsa Radio now, saying the fuel depot that was blown up for them was held their because the lack of electricity Israel has caused meant they had to store fuel to keep power to the station.  Says it is a Hamas-affiliated radio station Israel has accused of broadcasting terrorism, hate, etc.  Says the fuel depot fairly small.  Reiterates everyone has had to try and store fuel because of the lack of electricity.

Correspondent talking about how Israel's target list as steadily expanded from government sites to civilian sites.  He was far more detailed than that, but having to summarize here.

Showing an ambulance now, anchor asking correspondent about it, correspondent saying it appears to be heading from one of the heavily targeted areas towards al-Shifa Hospital.  Saying something about how hospital needed to get out 100 patients to Egypt and get in medical supplies, but I missed if he was saying they managed to actually do so or needed to and haven't been able to.

They just showed an Apache missile as it arced across the sky and hit somewhere in Gaza City.  There's another one from an Apache.  Saying more than 6 now from an Apache towards northern Gaza.

10:34pm) Now going to Beirut and interviewing Abbas Zaki, PLO representative there.  He's starting out encouraging everyone working in Gaza including the Jazeera and media correspondents and condemning Israel's crimes in Gaza.  Condemning the attacks on civilians and failure of Arab governments to provide arms.  But encouraging the citizens of Gaza to stand firm.  Saying if this was a fight between two equal armies would be one thing, but saying this is a wide-ranging attack by Israel on a civilian area.

Zaki asked by anchor what he thinks of the deterioration of the military and humanitarian situation.  Zaki says its not normal the way the Arab nations are reacting.  Now he's rambling on about Sarkozy and how the Israelis call their army a "Defense" force even as it attacks.  Really incoherent.  (Though he's not taking the standard Fatah Quisling line, the Fatah guys must really be feeling the heat and realizing they have to talk tough now as their grassroots aren't happy with them for supporting Israel's barbarity in Gaza.)

Ok, Zaki really rambling.  Jazeera cameras continue to pan over Gaza, missiles falling and bombs going off all over the place, fires and smoke everywhere.  Apocalyptic scene.  Anchor finally cut off Zaki, thank goodness.

Back to correspond Tamir something or other.  Asking if any updates/developments.  Saying more explosions in northern Gaza, more explosions heard eastern Gaza as he turns the panorama cameras that way.

Headline on bottom of screen (been up several times now) saying Washington refuses the Arab ceasefire proposal at the Security Council.

Geez, you keep seeing these bombs and missiles the Israelis are firing and they're going straight into what look like densely built up areas.

Correspondent saying Israeli tanks entered via the agricultural area near where Israeli settlement of Dugit (sp?) used to be and progressing slowly from there.

Saying it's almost morning, 6:45 am, toughest night yet for the Palestinians.  Saying worst incident so far worst incident was Israelis bombing a mosque (I think in Beit Lahiya) that killed 13 people.  Saying the resistance is fighting the Israeli tanks with missiles.  Saying Gaza from the far north to far south facing non-stop bombardment (the pictures and sounds of explosions on the screen certainly back that up).

10:49pm) Dawn breaking it looks like, light on the horizon.  Safwat Ziyad (sp?) on the phone now, a military expert, anchor asking his view of what's happening.  Safwat saying Israeli forces may have made some progress on the ground overnight it appears, but doesn't appear they've been able to stop the resistance from launching Qassam missiles yet, 5 of which went into the Negev overnight.  Anchor asking Safwat (who from dialect is clearly Egyptian) what the destructive power of Qassam's is.  He says they're small, 5-15 kilograms of explosives, goal is to basically show Israelis can't stop them.

Headline on bottom now saying Security Council ended an emergency meeting on Gaza without reaching any agreement or official announcement.

Safwat still speaking, keeps talking about how resistance keeps sending message their capabilities still intact as they continue to launch missiles and Israelis haven't achieved their ability to stop it.  This guy's boring, keeps saying the same thing over and over.  Now he's drifting into politics of ceasefire terms.

Anchor cuts him off (thank you!) and asking correspondent Tamir for any updates on the ground.  Tamir not responding, silence.  Oh, here he is.  Saying bombardment getting more violent now.  Says seeing morning light now and appears to be corresponding with an escalation.  Saying Israeli forces in northern, eastern, and southern Gaza.  Saying slow progress by Israeli tanks.  They appear to be taking firmer control of agricultural areas and stepping up their bombing of residential areas from there.  Heavy machine gun fire being opened up by Israelis to try to cover their tanks advance.

Argh, back to Safwat az-Zayad in Cairo (mis-spelled name first time).  Talking about how Israel doesn't have any system against Palestinian missiles.  He's talking about Israel's "Iron Dome" anti-missile system and how it hasn't worked to date.  Did he just say "lil-asif ash-shadeed" (unfortunately) about that?  Ok, he remains boring, not sure if he's whining about the poor Israelis or if I just misunderstood.

No going to New York and correspondent Khalid Dawoud to ask about the Security Council meeting.  Boom, another explosion in background.  Saying very simple statement out of Security Council asking everyone to stop shooting and minor request to Israel to respect humanitarian law.  Saying US rep specifically didn't want any formal council statement to come out, that they don't want "a return to the situation before things got worse" and that they want the PA (my note: i.e., the Palestinian traitors and American/Israeli puppets) to be back in charge of the border crossings in Gaza again.  Says as usual US is key player and they ended after a 4 hour meeting with nothing.

Says the Arab ambassadors exited meeting very clearly showing disappointment on their faces.  Saying US is ultimately the last word at the UN Security Council and that lack of any statement shows lack of effectiveness of it.  Dawoud spending some time talking about how security council works, how permanent members and US in particular really have last word and any hope of getting international law and international humanitarian law basically impossible there.  He put it in less charged terms than that, more technical, but that's what I got out of it with half of my attention on it.

Ok, need to go to bed soon, but hopefully this gives some sense of how the coverage goes.  It's comprehensive, wall-to-wall coverage.  Correspondents in all the key locations.  Pictures of what's happening on the ground along with people on the ground describing.  Interviews with spokesman from the combatants (no Israelis on in the past hour or so I've been typing, but they've had a lot of them on in general past few days, so both sides putting out their messages).  Good night.

UPDATE: Oooh, just add this one juicy final tidbit.  Khalid Dawoud in NY continuing to talk about efforts at UN, talking about disarray of Arab ambassadors, their failure to achieve anything, but juiciest bit is besides for talking about their divisions, mentions that some of them "probably don't want an immediate ceasefire".  Oh, and talking about how it took 4, 5 days for them to even meet using excuse of New Year holidays, but appears it may well have been a deliberate green light from the Security Council members and the PA to allow the attacks to go forward and have time.  Making comparisons to 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon on that.

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