Dispatches: The Killing Zone
While the world's attention has been fixed on the war in Iraq, Dispatches reporter Sandra Jordan and producer Rodrigo Vasquez risk their lives to reveal the shocking level of daily violence and murderous hate in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian civilians live under the threat of Israeli Defence Force attacks that do not discriminate between militants and children. Israeli setlers live in fear of suicide attacks.
But it is not only Palestinians and Israelis who are dying. Since the Gulf war, three Westerners have come under Israeli army attack.
An American peace activist was crushed to death by an IDF bulldozer; a British peace protester was shot in the head by an IDF sniper and remains in a coma; and last weekend, a British cameraman was shot dead by the IDF.
Within hours of arriving Sandra and Rodrigo are shot at and tear-gassed by Israeli troops breaking up a memorial service for Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist crushed by an Israeli Army bulldozer two days before.
That sets the tone for a five-week stay in which they document the shooting by Israeli troops of the British peace campaigner Tom Hurndall, the death of James Miller, the award-winning cameraman who worked extensively for Channel 4, killed as he filmed Israeli troops bulldozing Palestinian homes, and the deaths and mutilation of many innocent Palestinians and Israelis.
The Dispatches team reveals what life is like in what has become a fully blown war zone. Their film captures the aftermath of an Israeli missile attack that assassinates a leader of the deadly Hamas group. Children who happen to be playing in the street nearby are killed or have limbs blown off.
They film the aftermath of an attack in which Israeli troops fire modified tank shells that explode in mid air above densely populated civilian areas and spray thousands of razor sharp darts, or flechettes, in an arc some 300 metres long and 90 metres wide. The team encounters sniper fire from Israeli watchtowers, and endures tank shelling alongside a class of terrified school children.
In one of the most shocking moments in the film, Dispatches captures heartbreaking scenes in a Palestinian hospital minutes after Tom Hurndall was shot through the head, rescuing a seven-year-old child sheltering from gunfire.
While Hurndall lies in a corner, kept alive by a life support machine, his colleagues and Palestinian doctors negotiate frantically with the IDF to transfer him to an Israeli hospital, and to obtain safe passage for the Palestinian ambulance that will carry him. Hours later, with the help of the British Embassy they finally succeed, and embark on a hazardous journey to the Egyptian border. Hurndall remains in a coma.
Jordan and Vasquez also investigate the death of James Miller, the award-winning cameraman. They find that eyewitnesses tell a story sharply at variance with the official Israeli account.
Since September 2000, some 2,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli Defence Forces, who routinely use F16 fighter jets, helicopter gunships and tanks to bomb and shell densely populated Palestinian residential areas. The victims include some 350 children.
In the same period Palestinian armed groups have killed more than 700 Israelis, including some 90 children. The victims were all killed in deliberate attacks, including suicide bombings.
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