Sunday, April 10, 2011

CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: Anderson Cooper Circa 2006 - Part 3

When we left Anderson last week, he was in his hotel room in Haifa, Israel. (If you've missed part 1 and part 2, please click on the links.) He had written a post for the 360 Blog that morning, and spent his day preparing for that night's broadcast.

On Tuesday, July 25th, Anderson anchored AC360 from the Israel/Lebanon border ~

And welcome back to the Israel/Lebanon border. We are broadcasting live from the Israeli artillery units.

The broadcast included the following report from Anderson~

One of the things we've been trying to do in our coverage over the last two weeks or so is not only travel to as many different places as possible -- that's right, we were in Northern Israel a lot. That's why we were in Cyprus. That's why we were also in Beirut and are now back here in Northern Israel. We're trying to see the story from as many different angles as possible. But what we're also trying to do is provide some context. And part of that is revisiting people who we met along the way. When we first came to Israel about two weeks ago we came to actually this spot, to this artillery unit, run by a guy named Captain Boaz. We came back there to check in with him to see how he's been doing these last two weeks. Take a look. … As the fighting continues to intensify on the ground in South Lebanon, so does the work for these Israeli artillery crews. … Right now Captain Boaz's unit, his guns are silent. They've been going all night. No doubt they'll start up again shortly.


On Wednesday, July 26th, Anderson posted the following to the 360 Blog ~

Getting personal with Katyusha rockets
We've spent the day so far along the Israel-Lebanon border. It's amazing how quickly you get used to the sounds of shelling. A couple days ago, I couldn't tell the difference between incoming and outgoing fire. Now, it's obvious to my ear. We came upon a Katyusha rocket that had struck along the side of the road. It had created a trench about 80 feet long that was still on fire when we got there. The rocket was half-buried in the ground. It was a strange moment. There was no one else around. There were no fatalities. And no one was injured. I guess emergency personnel had more pressing matters to attend to. We then went to the local police station and took a look at the bomb squad's arsenal of rockets they've recovered. Some of these Katushyas are filled with ball bearings that scatter on impact, as Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported last night. The launchers themselves are rather basic devices. I'm always amazed by the simple methods humanity has devised to kill one another. In this border area, the mountains are literally on fire. Rockets have landed along the forested slopes and huge plumes of white smoke fill the sky. Tonight on the program, we'll show you what these Katyushas look like up close and how Israeli authorities are trying to deal with the seemingly endless supply of them that Hezbollah has at its disposal. See you tonight.
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 1:42 PM ET

On Thursday, July 27th, Anderson was live from the boarder town of Kiryat Shmona and the broadcast included the following Reporter's Notebook ~

We're coming to you tonight from the border town of Kiryat Shmona, a town which saw heavy shelling from Katyusha rockets. Those Hezbollah rockets have hit this town virtually every day since this crisis began. But today was a day like no other -- more than a dozen falling in a -- in a very short amount of time.

Every place we've gone to report this story has a different feel to it. In Haifa, the war still seems far away. I mean, you hear the sirens, see the rockets landing, people die. But you don't see where the shells are coming from. They just seem to fall out of the sky. Here in the very north of Israel, it feels much more like a front line. You can actually see where the troops are crossing the border. The fighting seems very personal: small units, guerrilla warfare. … After awhile you don't even notice the sound of shelling. Two weeks ago I couldn't tell the difference between incoming and outgoing fire. Now it seems so obvious. Standing next to these artillery pieces when they fire, the power of it is overwhelming. A percussive blast washes over you. A shock wave of heat and dust, smoke and steel, grease and gun powder. If you're not wearing ear plugs, it's deafening.


On Friday, July 28th, producer Charlie Moore posted the following to the 360 blog ~

What do you hear in these sounds?
Everyone's playing a strange guessing game in northern Israel these days. There are so many explosions in the air -- blasts from Israeli 155mm artillery guns and booms from exploding Hezbollah Katyusha rockets -- we all spend our days and nights trying to guess if the weapons are going out or coming in. Our local translator and friend Alon has lived in the town of Kiryat Shmona most of his life. He has years of practice playing the game. "Drive with the windows down so you can listen close," he says. "Outgoing sounds like a pop and incoming sounds more like a sucking sound." I try, but can't tell the difference. Anderson says he can, but I'm not sure I believe him. To spend any time here is to be used to the sound. A lot of the journalists covering the conflict here are staying at a local kibbutz that's literally surrounded by artillery batteries. When we first arrived four days ago, we'd pause mid-sentence when the guns would fire; they're so frequent today that even though the windows rattle with each bang, no one even seems to notice. We're hoping it's all outgoing. The game gets real when you see the damage these things inflict. We were driving to scout locations yesterday when we noticed black smoke rising from a building we passed, an emergency vehicle racing towards it. We followed and found two Katyusha rockets had just struck a laundry detergent manufacturing plant. We watched as the smoke turned to fire and as that fire consumed nearly half the building. There were no casualties, but don't tell that to the company's owner; he arrived on the scene, threw up his hands and literally screamed at the flames. We're on the Israeli side of the border, so we don't see the damage Israel's 155mm rounds dish out, but they appear no less destructive, as shown in reports from CNN correspondents in southern Lebanon. These are large, powerful, sophisticated weapons with pinpoint accuracy. You feel it in your stomach if you're standing next to one when it fires. They are weapons designed to destroy. Yesterday, this part of northern Israel saw some of its most intense fighting. It seems today is starting the same way. The sun was rising as we finished the show and the air cracked with artillery bangs. We think all of it was outgoing, but the guessing game begins with another day.
Posted By Charlie Moore, CNN Senior Producer: 8:54 AM ET

On Monday, July 31, Anderson submitted the following blog post ~

Seeing red in Israel
"Does anybody know what's in this stuff?" That's the question my cameraman, Neil Hallsworth, asked as a red-colored chemical fell over us. It's a flame retardant the Israelis drop from small planes trying to put out the fires started by incoming Hezbollah rockets. "My face is burning," Neil went on to say. "I'm sure it's nothing. They must drop this stuff on firefighters all the time," I said. Though the truth is, I have no idea what's in it. We were standing next to a roaring fire started by a Katyusha rocket. So far, two have fallen around Kiryat Shmona, but it's still early in the afternoon. Yesterday, nearly a hundred rockets fell in this area. Despite all the talk of a ceasefire, the exchange of rockets and shells continues along the border. Given the pictures the world has been watching since yesterday, the horrific images of little children crushed by a falling building in southern Lebanon, it is possible that sometime this week diplomatic efforts will overtake events on the ground. It is interesting how one event, one attack, one tragedy, can suddenly alter a situation. In Israel, many people look at those pictures of children pulled from rubble on Sunday and say, "It's terrible, but Hezbollah is to blame, because they hide their rockets next to civilians." In the Muslim world, that is certainly not what most people say when they see those pictures. And that sentiment certainly was not the dominant one on Arab TV yesterday, which played the pictures over and over. Tonight, we will focus a lot on the deaths in Qana. Meantime, I'm interested in hearing from you. Did what happened yesterday in Qana somehow change the way you view this crisis? Or did it leave your views unchanged? Oh yeah, and if any of you know what's actually in that flame retardant, I've got a red-colored cameraman who'd love to know. Posted By Anderson Cooper: 1:05 PM ET

And anchored AC360 from the Israel-Lebanon border ~

We are live on the Israel-Lebanon border. Yesterday, it seemed to many observers here in this region that this war had reached something of a tipping point. Those gruesome pictures of civilians, many children, killed in the Israeli airstrikes in Qana shocked many throughout the world, angering many, particularly in the Muslim world. Now, some 24 hours after those pictures were first seen, the firing here along the border continues, these artillery units behind me continuing to pound positions in south Lebanon. What was supposed to be a 48-hour halt to Israeli airstrikes in south Lebanon, that has fallen away, several airstrikes by Israeli fighter jets and drones in south Lebanon today, and late word now that Israeli ground forces may be on the move.

The broadcast included the following report.

And we continue to follow developments right here along the border with Israel and Lebanon. It has been a very busy 24-hour period. Though the number of incoming Hezbollah rockets and mortars was much reduced on Monday, there was still a lot of activity here along the border.

Along the border an Israeli armored unit prepared for another day of fighting. Nearby, artillery units fired shells into a Lebanese town. Despite all the talk of the cease-fire, despite Israel's announcement of a 48-hour halt to their bombing campaign, the military activity here along the border continues. … As many of half of the residents in Kiryash Mona (ph) have already fled. As long as the rockets continue to fall, they know that nothing is sacred. And nowhere is safe.


On Tuesday, August 1st, Anderson anchored AC360 from the Lebanon border ~

We are right along the -- the border with Lebanon, with an Israeli artillery unit. The guns behind me are silent right now, but the action continues in south Lebanon and points beyond -- a lot to talk about tonight in this fast-moving conflict.

That broadcast included the following report from Anderson.

Well, on Sunday in the town of Kiryat Shemona in northern Israel, about 100 Katyusha rockets and mortars fell in and around this one town, about 140 all across northern Israel. The last two days there have been a dramatic reduction in the number of incoming projectiles. But what we've been noticing is a number of kids who are actually are trying to pick up the pieces of Katyusha rockets. It turns out it is a new hobby here for them in northern Israel.

Something to do. Some way to cope. A way for kids to play in this time of war.


Anderson's reporting from the Israel/Lebanon conflict in 2006 continues/concludes.... next week on ATA.

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ACAnderFan said...

Another good post, Wonz. I am really enjoying the look back at Anderson's reporting. I especially enjoy reading Anderson's blog posts and those of his producer. I always enjoyed reading the blog posts and getting an idea of what was going on behind the scenes.

Anonymous said...

What a tremendous post. I couldn't wait to get home from work so I could read every word. Thank you Wonz, you do a great job.

Anonymous said...

thank you so much - sounds trivial but please believe me I'm beyond grateful for those look-back posts.