Shoot In Us

Kate Geraghty and Paul McGeough are reknowned photojournalists working for the Sydney Morning Herald.  They were passengers on the Challenger 1, shoot in us one of the Freedom Flotilla boats, shoot in us when it was attacked by Israeli forces. Shoot in us   World hits home at shutter speed                                                                   THE black-clad Israeli commando looked straight into the camera lens as the flash lit up the swirling smoke from exploding tear gas canisters all around him. It was the photograph that perfectly captured the storming of the Free Gaza Flotilla trying to break the Israeli blockade and get aid into Gaza. Shoot in us It was also one of the photographs I took that will never be seen. Then I was hit with this stunning pain in my lower arm, shoot in us below the elbow, shoot in us and I was thrown a metre and a half across the deck. Shoot in us Others had seen a white flash, shoot in us I had a burn on my arm and after I checked for blood and found none I realised I had been hit with a stun gun. By then it was too late to do anything else. Shoot in us Six armed commandos climbed over the rails and ordered: "Down! Sit down! Get down!" My colleague, shoot in us reporter Paul McGeough, shoot in us told them: "We're with The Sydney Morning Herald." And another commando said: "We know you're with the Herald." I was stunned but for a completely different reason. Shoot in us "Bloody hell – Aussie accents." "No worries, shoot in us" the commando said. I was frightened but, shoot in us even more, shoot in us I was really quite annoyed. Shoot in us What were Australians doing behaving like this? We had joined the Free Gaza Flotilla in Crete and had spent time on board the Mavi Marmara before being transferred to the Challenger1 to make way for two German MPs who were hoping to bring political punch to the bigger ship. Shoot in us All the time we were making it clear that we were there to observe and not take sides. Shoot in us What I saw were people from all countries, shoot in us fishing, shoot in us flying kites, shoot in us singing and praying. Shoot in us They were optimistic that they would bring about a change. Some of them asked me what force to expect from the Israeli military. Shoot in us I said that they might use tear gas. Shoot in us Nobody expected the bloodshed that followed, shoot in us with peace protesters killed and wounded in a hail of live gunfire. It happened just before dawn in international waters. Shoot in us The flotilla was about 110 kilometres north-west of the Gaza Strip and everyone was keyed up. Shoot in us We knew that if anything was going to happen it would be then. Shoot in us It was pitch black when McGeough and I set up our laptops and satellite phones on the exposed observation deck. We picked up audio recordings of the Israeli Navy ordering the six-ship flotilla to turn around, shoot in us then we saw red dots on the horizon. Shoot in us The activists were still praying on the deck of the Mavi Marmara when the Israeli boats started to zoom in. On board people were wearing lifejackets and gas masks when we saw the first explosions on the back of the ship. Shoot in us It was a blur of inflatable boats, shoot in us explosions and gunfire. Shoot in us I had six camera cards and was shooting, shoot in us swapping the cards and shooting more. Shoot in us I wanted to have shots of the storming of the boat on every card. Shoot in us Once I had shots on a card, shoot in us I hid it on my body or among my personal possessions. I was shooting as the first commando came aboard the Challenger1. Shoot in us It would have been a brilliant shot but that was on one of the cards that I did not manage to save. Shoot in us My camera was wrenched from me and a commando swiped up all of our gear as we were marched below deck. We had gone as observers but were now part of the story. Shoot in us Back in Australia Herald editor Peter Fray was demanding that we be allowed to do our jobs. Shoot in us "Part of our role is to bear witness. Shoot in us This is why we sent two of our most experienced foreign correspondents, shoot in us Paul McGeough and Kate Geraghty, shoot in us to report on the flotilla's efforts to reach Gaza, shoot in us" he said. "Paul, shoot in us an acknowledged authority on the Middle East, shoot in us and Kate, shoot in us one of the country's finest news photographers, shoot in us were there as witnesses, shoot in us to bring the story of the flotilla to Australia and to the rest of the world. Shoot in us They had every right to do so. Shoot in us We ask that Israel respect their right to do their jobs." It did not work out that way. Shoot in us We spent days locked in a detention centre at Beersheba before being deported to Turkey. Shoot in us All that time I had three of my camera memory cards carefully hidden. Shoot in us I couldn't wait to get out and get the pictures to Australia. Shoot in us They ran with McGeough's story on the front page under a "world exclusive" banner. It was the second time in my career I had been detained. Shoot in us The previous time was in Burma after I took photographs of the Broken Arrow military band practising for national liberation day celebrations. Shoot in us What stuck with me from that trip was seeing dozens of men surrounded by swirling fog in the early hours of the morning working in groups in a paddy field as a man yelled orders at them. Shoot in us Journalists are banned and we could not ask whether this was forced labour or what was going on. Freedom is a privilege. Shoot in us For all photographers, shoot in us getting pictures out of places like that is an honour. Taking the pictures is the easy part, shoot in us getting them off the camera, shoot in us on to the laptop and then over to the picture desk to be published is the hard part. Growing up in Penola, shoot in us South Australia, shoot in us I would never have thought my life would revolve around the technical problems of satellite phones and trying to give a voice to people in the most horrific circumstances. Shoot in us Until I went to Monivae College in Victoria, shoot in us my only ambition as a child was to work in the Coonawarra store or to be a hairdresser. My first overseas assignment for the Herald and The Sun-Herald was covering the aftermath of the Bali bombing. Shoot in us I had never seen the aftermath of a bombing and was hugely moved by the suffering of the Australian families. Shoot in us It was also the first time I realised the impact a news photograph could have when I witnessed the Australian public's reaction to pictures of bomber Amrozi smiling for the cameras. It was a different type of horror covering the aftermath of the tsunami in Indonesia. Shoot in us Standing on one of the main bridges in Banda Aceh, shoot in us all I could see for miles was devastation. Shoot in us One of the men standing close to me said: "All the gods have got together to show us what hell is like." He was right. Shoot in us My job is to show that to the rest of the world. Shoot in us More of Kate's piece can be found at