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Reporting on the wars in Gaza — in 2006 and now

Reporting on the wars in Gaza in 2006 and now
Reporting on the wars in Gaza— in 2006 and now 06:18

This week, 60 Minutes reported on the challenges humanitarian aid workers are facing inside Gaza as they try to deliver food, medicine and health care to Palestinians caught in the crossfire between Israel and Hamas. 

According to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health, more than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 2 million displaced since the war began — numbers many in the Israeli press and the United Nations are reporting. The U.N. also reports that more than 300 health care workers have been killed. 

Dr. Nareen Ahmed, an American doctor based in Philadelphia and the medical director of MedGlobal, a U.S-based nongovernmental organization that trains health care workers in war zones, treated the critically injured at Nasser Hospital for two weeks before being evacuated. Many of the victims were young children. 

"I don't think I've been this close to the sound of missile strikes…with a hospital shaking while I'm trying to operate," Dr. Ahmed told 60 Minutes.

60 Minutes Overtime spoke with 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi and producer Ashley Velie about how they reported the story and revisited their coverage of the first Israel-Hamas war in 2006.

Currently, Israel is barring journalists from independently accessing the Gaza Strip, defying the long-standing precedent of allowing reporters into war zones.

To report the story for 60 Minutes, Velie, Alfonsi and the 60 Minutes team relied on aid workers to provide cellphone videos and explain what they had seen. 

The team also relied on a long-time CBS News producer based in Gaza to film the scene at Nasser Hospital, capturing the waves of critically injured people arriving for treatment at the Intensive Care Unit.

In 2006, Ashley Velie and Sharyn Alfonsi were able to report from the ground in Gaza, covering the first Israel-Hamas war. 

The previous year, Israel's then-prime minister Ariel Sharon decided to disengage from Gaza. All Israelis in the territory were evacuated, and the Palestinian people of Gaza were left to establish their own government. 

Two rival parties emerged: Fatah, the party of Yasser Arafat, aligned with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and a newer political group called Hamas, a Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood

In January 2006, Hamas won legislative elections in Gaza and became the ruling party.

"They started firing rockets into Israel. And then they did something that was really a turning point, which was kidnap an Israeli soldier by the name of Gilad Shalit," producer Ashley Velie explained. 

After the kidnapping, the first war between Israel and Hamas broke out, with Hamas firing rockets into Israeli territory and Israel raining down air strikes on the Gaza Strip. 

Alfonsi, then a correspondent for CBS News, and Velie, then a CBS News producer based in Israel, were in Gaza to report on that first war in July 2006. There, they met a mother, Farial Tayeh, who had lost her 11-year-old daughter in a bombing. 

An Israeli humanitarian group had tried to warn Tayeh that a bomb would drop nearby. But the call came too late; the bomb had already dropped, killing her child. Still in mourning, she invited Alfonsi and Velie into her home. 

"She wanted us to see. It was important to her, and so we did," Alfonsi said. 

Alfonsi and Velie also had access to Hamas leadership at the time, which commented on the state of negotiations with the Israeli government to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. 

"As a reporter, you want to be there. You want to talk to people," Alfonsi told 60 Minutes Overtime. "And nobody is doing that right now. They're not being allowed to do it. And that's unprecedented."

The video above was produced by Will Croxton. It was edited by Scott Roseann. Georgia Rosenberg was the broadcast associate. 

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