Taking many risks along with Al-Manar team by moving from one town to another across the Lebanese south and under Israeli bombardment throughout 33 days was not easy.
13 years on the divine victory, the reporter wants to talk about his experience, which was etched on his memory, in order to show the Israeli brutality vs the Lebanese heroic steadfastness.
The First Strikes
A day after he covered the press conference of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah in Beirut’s southern suburb (Dahiyeh), Mohammad Qazan headed to the south, he says. With the main Beirut-south highway was destroyed at Damour bridge following an Israeli strike, Al-Manar reporter took a minor road in a bid to reach Sidon, the Lebanese south’s gate.
Shortly after he crossed Sainiq bridge, Israeli warplanes carried out a raid, destroying the bridge which was a direct tie between Sidon and other southern towns. The strike threw the reporter’s car tens of meters away. Talking about that incident, Qazan says that several people were injured by that strike and he took some of them to a hospital in Sidon.
After rushing to hospital, Qazan had to continue his trip to the southern town of Nabatiyeh, where he was tasked with covering the Israeli aggression. As he crossed Sidon, Israeli warplanes carried out another strike, targeting the town of Ghaziyeh, near Sidon.
“I was in Ghaziyeh as the strike hit Al-Ghaziyeh. Pieces of smashed glass and shrapnel were scattered on my car due to the raid,” Qazan says in an article talking about his experience in July War 2006, published by Al-Manar’s Arabic Website.
At Nabatiyeh, the situation was very dangerous. In the third day of the aggression, Al-Manar team became the only journalist staff in the southern town. All journalists who were delegated by other Lebanese channels left Nabatiyeh after receiving calls urging them to flee the area due to high risks there.
“Unlike the situation in Nabatiyeh, Journalists were allowed to stay in the southern city of Tyre, where they had access to secure places,” Qazan says.
In Nabatiyeh, Qazan and the accompanying team’s mission was duplicated. They had to find a secure place for them to sleep, and a place for the SNG vehicle.
“I was tasked with receiving messages from Al-Manar reporters in Sidon and in the border area. Nabatiyeh was the main point where Al-Manar was live streaming so we had to stay there in order to keep track of Al-Manar’s coverage.”
“We had spent our nights at garages, sometimes in the car or under a tree. But the most dangerous and touching incidents, I remember, are when we knew that the place where we had spent the earlier night was hit by an Israeli strike.”
The journalistic mission was less difficult, according to Al-Manar reporter who emotionally talks about steadfastness of the Lebanese people who stayed in their houses despite the brutal aggression.
“In every time we entered a town in the south, we were overwhelmed by the people’s insistence to stay in their houses despite the strikes, the massacres, the destruction and all other risks. Those scenes were so encouraging to go ahead with our coverage despite all dangers.”
“I remember very well when we were surprised to see an elderly farmer watering his field in Kfarrumman, or a shepherd leading his cattle to cross the Jarmaq Bridge which was destroyed by Israeli strikes.”
Talking about the most dangerous incidents in July War, Qazan remembers when he and Al-Manar staff went to Zibdin town shortly after Israeli warplanes committed a massacre there.
“Just few seconds after we left Zibdin, Israeli warplanes carried out another strike.”
Qazan also narrates when he survived, along with Al-Manar cameraman, an Israeli drone attack as they infiltrated into an area close to Al-Ghandouriyeh and Al-Qantara villages where resistance fighters were engaged in fierce clashes with Israeli occupation forces.
“I survived, along with colleague Haidar Al-Jawahari, two missiles shot by an Israeli drone as we were trying to cover the Merkava battle in Wadi Al-Hujair.”
“City of Imam Hussein”
“We never knew how we survived such dangers! Is it because we were abiding by security measures or is it our luck?… Or is it because our love to this profession which is molded with our faith in the resistance? I don’t know… And I couldn’t believe what was really happening during those days. We were moving alone, the cameraman and me, from one town to another throughout 33 days. Surely we were encircled by the God’s providence… for we were in a city called ‘the City of Imam Hussein (a.s.)’,” Al-Manar reporter says referring to Nabatiyeh city.
Recalling a funny but a scaring story of July War, Mohamamd Qazan remembers when one Civil Defense officer gave him some cluster bombs in the lasts days of the war, saying they were exploded. However, it became clear then, that they were unexploded.
“The bombs appeared in one of my live messages on TV. I put them in my car and they stayed there for several days, thinking that they pose no threat. But when the cessation of hostilities took effect in August 14, we handed over the bombs to a resistance fighter to discover then that they were not exploded and that one of them was about to go off.”
“Our feelings at time were mixed between astonishment, laughter and fear. We were for days holding these explosive remnants in my car!”
Moments to Remember
Qazan speaks with passion about several incidents that he had passed through during July War.
“In the last week of the war we were working on our coverage with peace and calmness. I couldn’t know the secret behind such feeling. We appeared in several live messages with Israeli spy drones were clearly spotted, and sometimes strikes were hitting areas close to us.”
“Sometimes, and despite that we were in rush due to our work and other risks, we didn’t hesitate to provide a medicine for an elderly and to drive a civilian to a more secure place.”
According to Qazan, the most beautiful moments were when he and Al-Manar cameraman, Haidar Al-Jawahari, met resistance fighters.
“The resistance fighters were the reason behind our high morals. They also were facilitating our work. I hope that what we did during July War had offered some support to the resistance and imaged the heroic steadfastness of our country in face of the brutal Israeli aggression.”
“One day, we arrived in my hometown, Al-Taybeh, we got into a house where resistance fighters were gathering in the border village during the war. My colleague, Haidar Al-Jawahari, was surprised by his brother, who was a resistance fighter, in that house. That meeting was really memorable!”
Mohammad Qazan voices pride when talking about his experience in July war. He stresses that Al-Manar’s coverage during the 33-day war had contributed to the divine victory through media resistance and psychological warfare.
“After God, all thanks are to Al-Manar staff who was persistent. The team which included Haidar Al-Jawahari- who escorted me throughout 33 days-, technician Ibrahim Karaki and cameramen: Samir Iskandar, Mohammad Saleh and Ali Fahs. It was an experience of high risk for it was a decisive battle that thwarted a great scheme in our region.”