The wail of an air-raid siren jarred Julia Frankel ’23 awake on Oct. 7.
An intern for The Associated Press Jerusalem bureau, Frankel was staying not far from the newsroom the night before Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on nearly two dozen Israeli towns just outside the Gaza Strip.
As her roommates took cover in a bomb shelter nearby, the 23-year-old grabbed her bag and dashed to work.
“I’d never heard anything like it [the siren],” Frankel recalled during a phone interview from Jerusalem.
“I called my mom on my way to the office,” she recounted, “and said, ‘Mom, there’s a war.’”
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Frankel has been in Jerusalem since July reporting on the decades-long conflict between Israel and Palestinians and the sudden outbreak of war.
The former politics major cut her teeth as a journalist with The Student Life, serving as news editor, news associate and writer for the oldest college newspaper in Southern California. This past spring semester, Frankel studied abroad at the University of Oxford, Lady Margaret Hall, and while there, began applying for journalism jobs.
Frankel had eyed a role at the AP ever since Claremont McKenna College Visiting Lecturer Terril Jones ’80–a former foreign and business correspondent and editor for Reuters, the Los Angeles Times and the AP– told his international journalism class about global news internships there and at other news agencies.
“Why not apply?” she recalls thinking.
Frankel got the apprenticeship with the AP and published her first report from Jerusalem in July.
“The reporting world always inspired me,” she says. “Of course, this job is a good way to travel, write and meet people. But beyond that, not a day goes by where I don’t learn something new, where I don’t have a long-standing assumption challenged, where I don’t emerge from my interviews with a million more questions.”
During her first few months on the beat, Frankel reveled in reporting on the nuts and bolts of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial judicial overhaul.
Then the newsroom’s attention shifted.
Frankel, who had visited Israel with a friend during her semester abroad, called the first few days after the Oct. 7 attack “a complete haze,” as she worked around the clock to deliver news to an international audience.
She has since reported on displaced Israeli survivors and families of hostages being held by Hamas militants, hospitals in Gaza too crowded to treat the scores of children injured by Israeli airstrikes, Israeli rabbis working night and day to identify the dead, and a deadly surge of violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
“Julia is a perfect match for this job,” Jones says. “Tireless, eager to master the task, a nimble learner, dedicated to getting it fast and right, wholly ready to go above and beyond, and a terrific team player.”
Frankel says her colleagues and editors have supported her unrelentingly as she reports from the field.
“The best thing I can do now as a reporter is to be calm and let people tell their stories, because they’re the ones living it, dealing with the type of grief I can’t even begin to fathom,” she says. “Though of course I’m affected as well, I’m removed enough to have some distance–it’s what lets me do my job.”
Frankel navigates the respective 7-hour and 10-hour time differences to the East and West coasts to stay in touch with family, friends and former professors. Her days off are a welcome break from the whirlwind of covering an ongoing war.
She recently spoke with one of Jones’ journalism classes about her experiences in the Middle East, and she keeps in touch with her former advisor, Pomona College Professor of Politics Heather Williams.
Once the war ends, Frankel wants to do more legal reporting–an interest she developed in Pomona Politics Professor Amanda Hollis-Brusky’s constitutionalism classes.
While her internship with the AP ends this month, Frankel plans to continue reporting on the Israel-Hamas war from the scene.
“In Terril’s class, I read accounts from war correspondents and found them mesmerizing, but unimaginable,” she says. “It wasn’t like I was gunning to be one myself. It just happened.”
Editor’s Note: Pomona College's news section of the website follows AP Style and we have done so in this article. Visit the AP website for more information on the Israel-Hamas war topical guide.