Five years ago when I was working on the documentary Occupied Minds, I got a real taste of what it’s like being a reporter working in a war zone. My crew and I had just finished shooting a segment in the devastated area of Rafah and were heading back to Gaza City, when suddenly, traffic came to a screeching halt.
Two Israeli tanks had blocked off the road while a huge armored Caterpillar bulldozer tore through an orange orchard removing trees and shrubs that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said were being used to provide cover to terrorists. The temperature was over 90 degrees and felt as if it were over 100 degrees in our rented van, which did not have working air conditioning. So, gasping for air, we decided to step outside.
No sooner had we walked a couple of feet outside the van than one of the tanks, without warning, started to fire towards us, literally drawing a line in the sand with bullets just a few feet ahead of us. A bullhorn then ordered us to go back inside the van, which incidentally had the words Press & TV tapped on its side and roof in large red letters. But this did not stop the tank from firing. All I could think that day was what if the machinegun operator had miscalculated? I later learned that our camera man was missing a finger because he had been shot through his camera a year earlier by an Israeli sniper.
This past Friday, Jacky Rowland was reporting from the West Bank village of Bil'in, explaining to viewers about the separation fence and the weekly protests that take place there, when Israeli troops began firing tear gas at the protesters and then directly at her.
The video below shows Rowland, wearing a helmet, exclaiming "We're under attack!" as a tear gas grenade flies past her.
She continues reporting, telling viewers that the Israeli soldiers are "obviously trying to take us off the air."
More on Bil'in.