Before moving to Jerusalem, Matt Rees reported on the doings of wall Street, where battles are conducted in boardrooms and raids mean speedy acquisition of a targeted company's stock. But just as Rees was getting used to the demands of his new job as Jerusalem bureau chief, he had a baptism by fire as Israel and the Palestinian territories slid deeper into their worst cycle of bloodshed since the 1987-93 intifadeh. "I've been here since 1996," says the Welsh-born Rees, 33. "While there have been occasional flare-ups in that time, this is certainly the biggest wave of violence I've seen."
It's an unpredictable, dangerous story, Rees notes, and "I've been lucky to have the great support of our Palestinian correspondent, JAMIL HAMAD, and military affairs reporter AHARON KLEIN, as well as advice from my predecessor, LISA BEYER, who is now a senior writer in New York." Still, the story is particularly sad for a correspondent in a region where historic steps on the path to peace have been taken in recent years. "I've been touched by the deep sense of disappointment--almost depression--in my Israeli and Palestinian friends," says Rees. "Their hopes, built over the past seven years, have come crashing down. The challenge is to convey the big political battle while coloring it with the struggle of people to keep their hope alive."
Lisa Beyer and senior foreign correspondent JOHANNA MCGEARY, both former Jerusalem bureau chiefs, wrote this week's cover stories. We sought interviews with both Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak, but only Barak agreed, spending 20 minutes on the phone with Beyer on Saturday. Rees and his team have been out on the streets and into the many trouble spots to bring vivid accounts of the drama now unfolding. Cairo bureau chief SCOTT MACLEOD headed for the Gaza Strip, AMANY RADWAN monitored the Egyptian government's mediation efforts, Tehran stringer AZADEH MOAVENI kept watch on the volatile Lebanese border from Beirut, and veteran war correspondent ED BARNES hopped a flight on Thursday to Tel Aviv. From our safe haven in New York City, we have nothing but admiration for their dedication and work.