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Le Monde
Le Monde
18 Nov 2023

Images Le

Out of breath and terrified, Palestinian journalist Mustafa Sarsour runs through the Al-Shifa hospital courtyard, zigzagging through gunfire with his camera focused on filming images of death. On this November 15 morning, near the tents where thousands of refugees had been crammed together just a few hours earlier, abandoned bodies lay wrapped in sheets. "Wounded or martyr?" he shouts to another man, who is running toward the entrance carrying a small figure with a dislocated body. "Martyr! God bless him."

The broadcast on Al Jazeera on Wednesday, November 15, suddenly cuts to the inside of the hospital. Medical staff are filming, this time. In the footage, infants who were taken out of the neonatal department's incubators, for lack of electricity, are transferred through dimly lit spaces to the emergency room and then lined up next to each other in a bed, "so that they maintain their temperature. One of them died this morning," says an anonymous voice.

In Doha, Qatar, morning show anchor Salma Al-Jamal had begun her story with a shot from the studio, without comment: "Al Jazeera has obtained images of the outskirts and interior of the hospital, surrounded by Israeli forces."

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Since October 7, the Qatari channel – the only international news organization that has been present in the Gaza Strip without interruption – has immersed its tens of millions of Arabic-speaking viewers into the distressing hell taking place on the Palestinian territory, taking them from neighborhood to refugee camp, all while under fire as the Israeli bombings rage on. Its cameras shoot unfiltered footage of collapsed apartment buildings, of bodies trapped under rubble, sometimes burnt, of CPR performed in ambulances and of the wailing and tears of victims' loved ones.

The reporters don't pull their punches: "Have we ever seen an army steal the bodies of the people it has murdered?" was the question asked on a November 16 live broadcast, a few hours after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Shifa hospital and removed the victims who lay in its surroundings.

The pro-Palestinian bias is made clear, right down to the choice of words: The victims of the bombings are "martyrs," the Israeli army is described as "the occupying army," while the Palestinian armed factions are indiscriminately referred to as "resistance groups." The English-language version of the channel takes the same line, albeit in a more moderate tone.

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Thanks to the considerable resources deployed by Al Jazeera in the Gaza Strip, the half-dozen or so of their reporters who criss-cross the territory – backed up by local media journalists – also make the Qatari channel almost the last remaining outlet of Palestinian expression, allowing local figures to reach the outside world. Founded in 1996, the channel has had a strong presence in the Palestinian territories since the Second Intifada (2000-2005).

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