The dilemma of reporting from the Gaza Strip

By Natalia A. Bonilla

For her, as well as a whole lot of others, it was difficult to get in and almost impossible to get out. While the Israeli government controlled every access towards the Gaza strip, Laila El-Haddad was first seen as a Palestinian rather than a journalist.

In a conference held by the Centro para la libertad de Prensa de Puerto Rico, the reporter spoked about her demeanors on the conflict zone and how difficult was for her to keep portraying, as she called, the humanistic crisis.

“There was never the intention to pull out the troops or to start a negotiation”, says the reporter who covered the most recent war on these two regions for the television channel Al Jazeera. “It has become a concentration camp” where Israeli troops have acted as a “vacuum in Gaza provoking chaos and anarchy.”

It can be established that the mother of two and freelance journalist, faced the fear of not coming out alive. Receiving most information about the suffering in Gaza from her family members living there, El-Haddad has portrayed those experiences in her blog “Raising Yousuf and Noor: Diary of a Palestinian Mother”.

She thought of Gaza as a “cage of hamsters” where liberty is unknown beyond the strip. Beyond, even from the safety of their own homes, because since the warfare was declared in December 2008, another battle is held between families, such as her own. Psychological threats have been aimed to her parents, “they received calls from people saying their time was running out.”

Looking back to the years she spent in what is now, a vulnerable field in which 1500 civilians had perish their lives, the freelance journalist, now living in the United States, refers to September 2005 as the date on which diplomacy weakens and peace is longtime waited for.

She remarks “the start of Israel unilateralism, (attacking) without explaining what the motives are, acting without any regards.”

The disengagement seen in the international atmosphere in order to stop what has been feared as 21st century genocide is appalling. The U.N. troops couldn’t even reach the first couple of days to bring medical aid and humanitarian services to the zone.

“It’s urgent the media activism” for these life-threatening circumstances, she explains leaving behind the slightly hope that 2009 will come with positive changes towards the region now that president Barack Obama has taken office. She says, “Palestinian does not feel it would make such difference.” Although she thinks in comparison with the past administration, “he is willing to actually engage and push things forward”.

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