Reporters on the Job

Settled Settlers: When correspondent Ilene Prusher arrived at Neve Dekalim to report Monday's story on Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip (page 1), she realized she had been there 10 years ago, a week after the Rabin government announced a plan to have the Israeli army withdraw from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho. Mr. Rabin had just inked a historic peace deal with Yasser Arafat in Oslo. The settlement was only about a decade old and still looked very new.

"What struck me this time is that it was more lived-in; the palm trees the settlement is named for had grown and filled in. In the same way, people call themselves veterans: They are more dug in. A new generation has grown up, and they are not going to be easy to move."

As she headed home, Ilene had a small reminder of the kindness of strangers, even in conflict-ridden locales. "Just after I left Gaza, I stopped for a snack - and realized my tire was flat. We found a mechanic who worked for about 15 minutes. Then he said goodbye and started to walk away. Wait, I said, how much? I tried to insist, but he refused. His generosity made my day."

Heard on the Street: In Baghdad, not surprisingly, weapons of mass destruction - or the dearth of them - is a hot topic. While reporting Monday's story (this page), reporter Dan Murphy found that the controversy isn't just affecting George Bush and Tony Blair on their home turf. Across Baghdad, Dan says, the conspiratorially minded see the missing WMD as evidence that the US has "other" plans for Iraq than creating a democracy. "We all believe the US put Saddam in power in the first place, and now they're here and they don't want their troops to leave," Sadik Ghali, a burly auto mechanic, told Dan. "If they were interested in WMD they should have invaded Pakistan, or Iran, or even their own country. There's plenty of nuclear weapons in America."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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