Covering a rocket attack in Israel

Correspondent taking cover makes for great television. Being actually in that situation is quite another matter.

As a cameraman covering a dangerous story like this week’s Israel-Gaza conflict, I often ask myself the questions, what if my correspondent and I come under attack by incoming rockets?

What to do? Where do I point the camera?

Working with Al Jazeera, we are sent on a hostile environment course, so we are aware of what happens in the field and the best way to prepare when faced with these problems.

Some people may never need to use it but when covering the Israel-Palestine conflict for the past four years, it has come in very handy.

The course consists of two parts, learning the in’s and out’s hostile areas, weapons, warfare and also first aid.

We are given guidance of what to do in hostile areas as nobody can tell you what to do because each situation is different, but just to be aware of different scenarios.

On Monday, there were incoming rockets aimed at the southern Israel town of Ashkelon where my correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid and myself were deployed to do lives all day to report Israel’s side of the war.

Very worrying

We were live on air when the red alarm sounded and we had to take cover. What to do?

It makes for great television correspondent taking cover but when you are actually in that situation, it’s very worrying.

Some of the preventative measures I put in place on Monday included purposely positioning ourselves in an open area, away from buildings so that we could clearly see the rockets being fired in the air, and also to limit the amount of shrapnel caused by breaking glass in the event the rocket hit something close by.

The other preventative measure I took was I parked the car between us and the direction of the incoming rockets as a barrier. This proved to be the best solution for what happened today.

We were able to stay on air as my correspondent could take cover behind the car and I just zoomed wide and pointed the camera towards where she was heading and also ran for cover.

When I thought it was safe to come back to the camera, I framed up the intercepts from the Iron Dome system in the sky and, once we knew the red alert was over, I came back to Hoda and continued the live.

What people saw on air today was all planned out before we started so we knew exactly what and where we would go in the even of this exact situation we found ourselves in.

Planning and communication is the first thing we learn in our course, and today is just one of those examples and proves the training we are given becomes second nature with experience.

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