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French Version

World media returns to Beirut - for the usual reason

Over 50 nationalities, 30 television channels and wire agencies, and hundreds of reporters, correspondents and cameramen have formed a massive media beehive in Downtown Beirut to cover the Israeli offensive against Lebanon. Based in the large Shaker and Aoueini building adjacent to UN House in the capital, the television and wire agencies' offices are never deserted as reporters and staff members run through the corridors to transfer information to each other.

"Once again Lebanon manages to attract world's media outlets to cover its news, but this time it is war coverage," said one man as he fixed a television-camera light in preparation for an impending broadcast "from the heart of Beirut."

"The last time we had such a large number of media outlets gathering to cover news in Lebanon was directly after the assassination of our former prime minister, Rafik Hariri," said Issam Dakroub.

Dakroub is the general manager of News Time Productions, which provides media and broadcast services to broadcasters and media outlets.

Dakroub said that most of "the over 50 nationalities who covering the Israeli war on Lebanon are Arabs, Europeans and US, with a lack of media crews from the Far East."

He added: "This time, the Japanese coverage of events is missing. Normally, the Japanese presence would be extensive covering events on the ground."

Adnan Ghamloush, a pan-Arab Al-Arabiyya television reporter who was in the media convoy of Al-Arabiyya and Al-Jazeera which was attacked by Israeli warplanes Saturday, told The Daily Star that the media personnel in the convoy had a "miraculous escape."

Ghamloush said: "We were going from the Southern town of Marjayoun to the Southern town of Hasbayya when Israeli warplanes attacked us with 11 raids."

Luckily, none of the crew were wounded, but the convoy had to wait until the United Nations managed to reach them the next day and help them make their way to Beirut.

"If the Israelis had wanted us dead they could have had us evaporated in a second," said Ghamloush.

He added: "The Israeli warplanes hit the road in front of our convoy and behind it as if it were a message for the media not to go any further South."

Early Sunday, a Lebanese reporter, "a young woman who is no more than 25," as Health Minister Mohammad Jawad Khalifa said, was killed in an Israeli raid on the South.

Both the BBC and the CNN refused to talk to The Daily Star, the first saying it's company policy and the latter saying their PR office in Atlanta doesn't authorize them to give quotes.

Beirut 24-07-2006
Leila Hatoum
The Daily Star

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