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Amira Hass, 'Reporting from Ramallah'

Semiotext(e) 2003; ISBN 1 58435 0 19 9; US$14.95

For all its failings, it's sometimes worth reminding oneself that some of the best journalists (as well as some of the worst!) work for the corporate media. Amira Hass is one such reporter.

The daughter of survivors of the Nazi holocaust, Hass was, until September 2002, the chief West Bank and Gaza correspondent for Ha'aretz, Israel's leading liberal daily. Between 1993 and 1997 she lived in Gaza - the only Jewish Israeli journalist to have done so - covering the Oslo “peace” process from the inside, a period eloquently described in her previous book Drinking the Sea at Gaza (Hamish Hamilton, 1999).

Reporting from Ramallah is a selection of pieces Hass wrote for Ha'aretz between 1997 and 2002, covering the end of the Oslo years and the first two years of the second Intifada.

Whether she's reporting a house demolition near the Egyptian border (“a 15-year old dream was destroyed in a matter of seconds; money I'd saved from 20 years of work evaporated in a single night”), the work of Palestinian psychotherapists struggling to deal with a traumatised population, or conducting a chilling interview with an Israeli sharpshooter (“[Children aged] Twelve and up you're allowed to shoot. That's what they tell us.”) Hass brilliantly captures the full horror of Israel's occupation.

Highly recommended.