Reporters on the Job

LOCAL APATHY: "The amount of interest in the story of the Israelis and the Palestinians never ceases to amaze me," says the Monitor's Cameron Barr. At least a hundred journalists were on hand for Thursday's meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He counted reporters from at least seven American newspapers.

"The journalists easily outnumbered the Palestinians who bothered to show up," Cameron says, "except for a brief period when a crowd of Fatah guys came in to shout slogans."

A CONFLICTED PLACE: As she rushed to the scene on the night of the Aug. 19 bombing in Jerusalem, the Monitor's Nicole Gaouette says that there were reminders everywhere of the long-standing and almost routine nature of the conflict between Israel and its neighbors.

"I had to jog about a half mile through a religious neighborhood to get to the bomb site since police weren't letting cars through. As I ran, I realized that the bombing was just a few hundred feet from the Mandelbaum Gate, the pre-1967 border crossing between Israel and Jordan. Then, it was run by the UN and the Gate was a rare, tense, and sometimes violent intersection between Arab and Israeli.

Jordan has since made peace with Israel, but the tensions and violence continue. At the Bikur Holim Hospital where Nicole spoke to Zvi Weiss, who was injured in the bombing, the doctors and hospital administrators all told her how routine the bombs have become.

"The hospital is within walking distance of many of Jerusalem's worst bombings during this intifada and one doctor told me that they often know to gear up for a bomb not because the police call, but because they hear the blast," she says.

" 'This is routine in the Middle East,' a doctor named Ephraim Halperin told me. He was sitting outside, part of a 24-man triage team, waiting for any last victims to come in. 'It's just a part of life here.' "

David Clark Scott
World editor

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