This is the new face of war reporting Arab audiences have seen since Israel launched its attack on Lebanon on July 12 in an attempt to defeat Hezbollah fighters.
Young female reporters beat their male colleagues to the forefront of the war zone.
Arab women correspondents, including Iraqis, have increasingly been reporting for Arab television outlets from Iraq, and a number were killed doing their job.
But the Hezbollah-Israel showdown brought Arab female reporters out in force from day one, and it was not long before a Lebanese freelance photographer paid with her life.
“I feel I got more [praise] than I deserve… too much.”
Layal Najib, 23, was killed on the spot when an Israeli missile struck next to the taxi in which she was travelling in south Lebanon.
Speaking from Aljazeera’s office in Beirut, Katia Nasser, whose name and face became familiar among Arab audiences in a matter of days said: “I volunteered to go to south Lebanon, although I usually work in the newsroom in Doha. The management did not discourage me from going for being a woman. On the contrary, I felt they appreciated my decision.”
Katia’s West Bank-based colleagues Shereen Abu Aqleh and Jivarah al-Budairi had long been used to getting caught in crossfire. This time they stood on the Israeli side of the border reporting on the Hezbollah missiles hitting northern Israel.
Bushra Abdel Samad was the first to appear in a blue body-armour and helmet from southern Lebanon.
Dubai-based Alarabiya television also sent female reporters to cover the bombing of Beirut‘s southern suburbs. Rima Maktabi and Najwa Qassem watched from a hill overlooking the densely-populated Shia area being bombarded from the air and sea.
LBC’s Mona Saliba fed reports from the flashpoint border town of Bint Jbeil, shortly before it became famous as the scene of fighting between advancing Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters.
Nasser is originally from
NTV’s Nancy Sabea clutched her flak jacket as she walked through devastated neighbourhoods in Beirut‘s southern suburbs.
Katia said: “It is normal to be scared. Courage boils down to controlling this fear and not letting it show on camera.”
Describing the aftermath of shelling which targeted a press convoy she travelled with to flee the border zone, she said: “I felt that life had suddenly turned into slow motion as I saw dust and smoke billowing around me.”
From south Lebanon herself, Katia appeared to be struggling on screen to hide her sympathy for southerners who were being killed or fleeing their villages.
She said: “Humans were more important for me than anything else happening on the ground. This was my people being hit. On air, I separated between personal feelings and pure reporting, but – off air – I cried twice.”
Taking risks seems to result in quick fame for female reporters.
Recalling messages she received from viewers in many Arab countries, Katia said: “You are a hero.
“I feel I got more [praise] than I deserve… too much,” she said, insisting that she was “only one among those people” who were stuck in their bombed villages.
One male Gulf columnist went even further in praising one female reporter stationed in Beirut saying that she had “outdone [veteran Western reporters] Kate Adie and Christiane Amanpour.”