Jerusalem resident on watching TV: ‘I can barely do anything else’

REUTERS Smoke is seen after an Israeli air strike, witnessed by a Reuters journalist, on a building that also houses … Continued


Smoke is seen after an Israeli air strike, witnessed by a Reuters journalist, on a building that also houses international media offices in Gaza City on Nov. 19, 2012. An Islamic Jihad local commander was killed on Monday in an Israeli air strike on a tower block that houses many international media, a source in the militant group said.

I’ve got to stop watching the television news here in Jerusalem. Especially the 24-hour news station that my cameraman husband, who’s in Gaza, works for. I can’t though. I am addicted. And like most addictions, this one’s definitely not good for me. I can barely do anything else.

Yesterday, I was a nervous wreck. It started the minute I woke up and looked at my phone. There was a text from my husband waiting (no calling from Jerusalem to Gaza City, even though it’s about 50 miles away as the crow flies) saying the building they had slept in had been hit by the Israelis, but they were all fine.

What? Television on immediately. Had I really turned it off?

And there it was. The Israelis had struck the roof of the building where they were staying only two floors below.

When I spoke to him briefly the night before, on a call patched through from his London office, he had told me they had left the hotel because there had been a couple hits on rocket-launchers just yards from the property. He had slept some of the previous night in the bathroom of his hotel room.

They had decided it might be safer to go to the Gaza office of their Arabic-language sister station, SKY Arabia, and camp out there. They bought mattresses and bedding for the three of them, planning on all settling into one room in the office for awhile.

And then this.

We furiously texted back and forth for a few minutes as I listened to his correspondent tell the story of the rooftop missile attack. He said Israel said they were targeting Hamas communications equipment on the roof of the building, not journalists, and that the building housed Hamas TV.

As the day wore on, I heard his correspondent report that on the top floor of the building, there was a sports bureau for an Arabic television station. That they couldn’t verify, or disclaim, Israeli accounts of Hamas communications equipment on the roof, that all they could say was that they hadn’t seen anyone go into that office while they had been there.

Israeli officials vigorously defended the attack on the media center, saying it was a surgical strike against Hamas, that journalists had not been targeted, and that no one had been injured there.

Didn’t make me feel that much better, especially after I (repeatedly) saw the video of the strike on the building, realizing just how close my husband had been to the devastating firepower. And local journalists, including a Palestinian cameraman, had been injured in another building.

My husband and his team moved back to the hotel. More and more foreign journalists are arriving at that hotel in Gaza City now, so it feels safer there, he texted me this morning, although again, he spent much of the night in the bathroom as the air strikes continued.

There’s a lot of diplomatic talk on the news today, which makes me hopeful there won’t be an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza. I just want a ceasefire as soon as possible, please. I admit: I’m being selfish here.

In the meantime, though, I gotta go. I have to watch television.

Daniela Deane, a former Washington Post reporter, is a freelance writer living in Jerusalem.

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