Sunday, April 17, 2011

CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: Anderson Cooper Circa 2006 - Part 4

For the past three Sunday's we've followed Anderson and his team from Northern Israel, to Cyprus, to Lebanon and back to Israel; reporting on the 2006 Israeli/Lebanon conflict. (If you've missed part 1, part 2, and/or part 3; please click on the links.) Tonight we catch up with him anchoring from an Israeli artillery unit's position and Micheal Ware enters the picture this week.

On Wednesday, August 2nd, Anderson anchored live from the war zone, from an Israeli artillery unit's position ~

A day of dramatic developments here in the war zone, thousands of Israeli troops now on the ground in south Lebanon, but the fighting is tough, house-to- house, street-by-street. Resistance is strong -- new airstrikes in Beirut, and more than 200 Hezbollah rockets rain down on northern Israel.

A report from Anderson that aired during the broadcast.

Some Israeli troops trying to catch a couple hours of sleep after returning from the fighting in south Lebanon. Not much sleep to be had these days. Often, just a couple hours and then they head back over the border.

It may sound simple, but it's anything but. After weeks of air strikes and artillery fire, the battle has widened. A determined army faces a determined enemy. And the fighting only grows more intense.


And a second report by Anderson from the same broadcast.

In Kiryat Shmona, the hills are on fire. …. You get a real sense of the damage that can be caused just from one incoming rocket or projectile. The fire is not only burning over here, but this entire field has already burned. And there are numerous fires still burning. There's one up there right on the hillside. There are several more.


On, Thursday, August 3rd, Anderson anchored from Haifa and Michael Ware was in Beirut ~

We are coming to you from Haifa tonight, where, just a few miles away from here, five Israeli civilians have died from rockets today. Three others died as well. It was a very bloody day for Israeli civilians. We begin with new signs tonight that, before things get better here, they could get a whole lot worse -- late developments from across the region and around the worried, a barrage of new airstrikes. CNN's ...Michael Ware in Beirut, where threats against Israel are in the air, but so are Israeli warplanes. So, we will start with Michael and breaking news. (Bit o'trivia -- Michael had just started with CNN - first broadcast was less than 3 weeks before this - and if you discount the times he was on an embed and it was required by the military, this is the only night he ever wore a flak jacket on-camera.*)


On Monday, August 7th, Anderson submitted two blog posts ~

Tracking Hezbollah with a Puma
I can't say where I am exactly. Actually, I don't have any idea where I am, so even if I was allowed to, I couldn't tell you. I know it's southern Lebanon, because as soon as we crossed the border, my Blackberry got a text message welcoming me to a new cell service. I am in what the IDF calls a Puma, a kind of armored vehicle, which sounds sleek and fast, and it may be, but right now it is crammed with soldiers. Literally, when one person moves, we all have to adjust our position. Cameraman Neil Hallsworth and I are embedded with a unit of combat engineers operating inside southern Lebanon. I can't talk about the mission until it's over, but safe to say, the unit we are with is targeting Hezbollah positions. It's just before midnight. The Puma has no windows, so you can't see out. Riding in one can be kind of disorienting. It's an armored vehicle, but the soldiers know that doesn't guarantee their safety. Hezbollah has been very effective at using anti-tank weapons, RPGs, and IEDs. In some ways, Hezbollah is a double threat for Israeli forces. On the one hand, they have the zeal of jihadist guerrillas. And on the other hand, they have at least one state sponsor, Iran, and support from another, Syria, so they have money and plenty of modern weapons. "They are tough," one Israeli soldier said to me. "They have courage, but they are just people." I think about that a lot. He meant of course, they are human beings, not supermen, not phantoms. They can be located, shot and killed. That's what the unit I'm with now is hoping to do -- find the enemy and kill them. This embed is only supposed to last about eight hours. It's a pretty direct mission, but you never know what can happen. I'll write more later
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 7:55 AM ET

History repeats: Blown up once, blown up twice
I just got back from southern Lebanon. The eight-hour mission turned into a 14-hour one. Veteran cameraman Neil Hallsworth, who probably has been on more embeds in Iraq than any other journalist, informed me that our vehicle's cramped quarters made this the most hellacious embed he's ever been on.
Whoever designed the Puma, the Israeli transport in which we were riding, needs to be forced to spend 14 hours in one. Anyway, enough griping. The mission turned out to be interesting. The combat engineers with whom we were embedded were ordered to go into southern Lebanon and take out a Hezbollah position at Karkoum. It had been one of the main command outposts in southern Lebanon. It had actually been an Israeli outpost back when they occupied Lebanon. When they left, they blew it up. Hezbollah rebuilt it. Now the unit I was with was supposed to go back in and blow it up again. History repeats. We left under cover of darkness, but it was dawn by the time we reached the bunkers at Karkoum. Things moved quickly once we exited the Puma. Israeli soldiers discovered a cache of anti-tank weapons, which Hezbollah has used to devastating effect. The soldiers rigged those to explode with the same C4 explosive they were using on all the structures. The blast was massive, though we couldn't actually see it because we had to take cover back inside the Puma. After the dust cleared, armored bulldozers moved in and leveled what remained. We'll have the story on "360" tonight. We continue to broadcast from the region, and will continue to do so all week.

Posted By Anderson Cooper: 10:58 AM ET

On Tuesday, August 8th, Anderson once again anchored from an Israeli artillery position ~

All night long, so far, the guns have been pounding. And you may hear that in the next two hours -- a lot to talk about tonight, troops massing here along the border, talk of a major escalation in the conflict, the Israeli government supposed to meet tomorrow to discuss sending troops deeper into Lebanon than any time in the past four weeks -

That broadcast ended with the following Reporter’s Notebook ~

It's been three weeks now, three weeks and counting, fighting and dying, shelling and running. So much of it seems so long ago; only the pictures are a reminder you were ever there. War is like that. Each day is the first. The past is dead, forgotten. In war, there's only now, only this, a smoke shared by buddies, a few hours' rest. The minutes pass. So do the memories. At first, the shelling. The rockets. That's what you see. That's what you hear. Incoming, outgoing, sirens and screams. All of it quickly fades, however, and becomes like your pulse, always there, a throb in your ear, a beat you barely notice. From a distance, there's a beauty to it. Brilliant flames, a flash of light, a brief boom that echoes in the hills. Up close, there's nothing beautiful about it. The ground rumbles. Your spine shakes. The heat and dirt scald your skin. So much of this war we don't even see. We stare at distant hills that smoke and smolder. The ground is dead. We see tanks move, soldiers come and go. But you don't see the fight up close and that's where we all want to be. We try to get close, as close as you can. You want to feel the heat, the fury, swallow the embers. You watch firefighters put out the flames, but it's never enough. You want to see more.

We followed the action wherever it's led: Beirut, Cyprus, Haifa, Kiryat Shmona, three weeks now, three weeks and counting. Sometimes I'm not even sure what I've seen. I used to stare at the holes made by the rockets, hoping to see, to learn something. The truth is, there's nothing inside. It's steel and shrapnel, shattered concrete. There's nothing to learn. You only learn from what you don't want to look at, what you least want to see: the blood on the ground, the sacrifices made. In Israel, they pick up the pieces, flesh and bone, heart and brain; all must be buried, all must be saved. There's so much blood on both sides of this border, so much loss already endured. We see this war fought in the distance, but when death descends, it happens up close. Three weeks and counting. The pictures are painful. Three weeks and counting. So is the truth.


This concludes my series on Anderson's coverage of the 2006 Israel/Lebanon conflict. Anderson left Israel after his August 9th broadcast and headed to London to cover an alleged terror plot. That's where we'll meet up with him next Sunday... on ATA.

* A big shout out/thank you to Cyn for her help with the video and Bit o'trivia on Michael Ware.

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ACAnderFan said...

Another good post, Wonz. I have really enjoyed your posts on Anderson's coverage of the Israel/Lebanon conflict. I have especially enjoyed reading Anderson's blog posts. Looking forward to your post next week. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Great post Wonz! I love looking back at those old clips, they never get old. I bet AC will soon be on his wat to London to cover the royal wedding, if he didn't travel there over the weekend. CNNI has been running promo's nonstop for AC, Pierce Morgan and Richard Quest's coverage. I'm not a big fan of the royal family, but it should be some interesting coverage w/AC covering it - and Quest always makes me laugh!