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Israel destroys Gaza tower housing AP and Al Jazeera offices

WorldMay 15, 2021 10:01PM ET
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4/4 © Reuters. A tower housing AP, Al Jazeera offices collapses after Israeli missile strikes in Gaza city, May 15, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem 2/4

GAZA (Reuters) -Israel destroyed a 12-storey tower block in Gaza housing the offices of the U.S.-based Associated Press and other news media on Saturday, saying the building was also used by the Islamist militant group Hamas.

The al-Jalaa building in Gaza City, which also houses the offices of Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera as well as other offices and apartments, had been evacuated after the owner received advanced warning of the strike.

A Palestinian journalist was wounded in the strike, Palestinian media reported, and debris and shrapnel flew dozens of yards away.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets struck a multi-storey building "which contained military assets belonging to the intelligence offices of the Hamas terror organization". It said it had provided advance warning to civilians in the building, allowing them to get out.

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt called the strike "an incredibly disturbing development." He said a dozen AP journalists and freelancers had been in the building and had been evacuated in time.

"We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza," he said in a statement https://blog.ap.org/announcements/ap-statement-on-destruction-of-gaza-bureau?token=v8aTgs9nIKkutJlk3_d2oAC6VLN8~kzy."The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."

The U.S. government said it had told Israel to ensure the safety of journalists.

"We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Pruitt on Saturday evening and "offered his unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world," a State Department spokesman said in a statement.

The acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, Dr Mostefa Souag, called the strike "barbaric" and said Israel should be held accountable.

“The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza," he said in a statement https://network.aljazeera.net/pressroom/al-jazeera-condemns-strongest-term-israeli-governments%E2%80%99-destruction-its-offices-gaza.

Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus rejected the notion that Israel was seeking to silence the media. "That is totally false, the media is not the target," he told Reuters.

Conricus called the building a legitimate military target, saying it contained Hamas military intelligence. He said Hamas might have calculated that by placing their "assets" inside a building with news media offices in it "they probably hoped that would keep them safe from Israeli attack."

The Israeli military has said during nearly a week of intense conflict that its strikes on buildings in Gaza are aimed at hitting targets used by Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the enclave.

Hamas militants have fired more than 2,000 rockets at Israel during the latest violence. Palestinians medics say at least 140 people, including 39 children, have been killed in Gaza. Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children.

NETANYAHU CALL WITH BIDEN

The destruction of the building came the day after U.S. President Joe Biden's envoy Hady Amr arrived in Israel amid diplomatic efforts to restore calm.

Asked why entire building was destroyed, Conricus said: "There was no way of taking down only the Hamas facilities that were in the building. They occupied several floors in the building and it was impossible only to take down those floors. It was deemed necessary to take down the whole building."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Joe Biden in a phone call that Israel is doing everything to avoid harming non-combatants in its fighting with Hamas and other groups in Gaza.

Netanyahu said proof of this was that during recent Israeli strikes on multi-storey towers "in which terrorist targets were attacked by the IDF (military), the non-combatants were evacuated", a summary of the phone call released by Netanyahu's office said.

The Washington-based National Press Club said Saturday's strike on the Gaza tower had followed "bombing by Israeli warplanes of two other buildings housing more than a dozen media outlets" on May 11 and 12.

"This trend prompts the question of whether Israeli forces are attacking these facilities to impair independent and accurate coverage of the conflict," the group said in a statement.

An Al Jazeera report on the strike on its English-language website quoted journalist Safwat al-Kahlout as saying: “I have been working here for 11 years. I have been covering many events from this building, we have lived personal professional experiences. Now everything, in two seconds, just vanished.”

Israel destroys Gaza tower housing AP and Al Jazeera offices
 

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Comments (10)
Paul Nichols
Paul Nichols May 16, 2021 11:52AM ET
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Lets see they attack isreal but Isreal is supposed to sit on its hands and wait for Bimbo Biden to help, they get what they deserve along with the media who was probably trying to hide the rebels being in the same building.
Rick Baier
Rick Baier May 16, 2021 9:28AM ET
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You better count your blessings Israel gave the liberal press a warning before leveling that building.
Pat Mathieu
Pat Mathieu May 16, 2021 3:38AM ET
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What about the Reuters building ? They are at war with Civilization too.
danny Levine
danny Levine May 16, 2021 3:38AM ET
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hahaha true
Gene Kret
Gene Kret May 16, 2021 3:10AM ET
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Palistine people would be so much better off by making nice with the jews. They would live in nicer homes, eat better food and become wealthier from all the free money that gets shoveled in from the US taxpayers.
niki velev
niki velev May 16, 2021 3:10AM ET
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all they want is freedom and their land back. ... not your food or money
tom paj
tom paj May 15, 2021 11:24PM ET
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once you silence media and internet (next) you may do things The GOD will only see...
Pat Mathieu
Pat Mathieu May 15, 2021 11:24PM ET
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And what about media and internet silcensing their politicsl opponents? Your GOD is ok with that ?
Mr KP
Mr KP May 15, 2021 10:41PM ET
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my prayer and thoughts with innocents died from both the sides, this is a complex issue ,guys don't throw random comments
niki velev
niki velev May 15, 2021 10:41PM ET
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your prayer are complete waist of time ... god does not exist
Leon Kelly
Leon Kelly May 15, 2021 10:18PM ET
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Netanyahu AKA "baby killer"
dc Gpswill
dc Gpswill May 15, 2021 10:18PM ET
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secure and save Jerusalem !!!
Gene Kret
Gene Kret May 15, 2021 10:18PM ET
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Leon you need to get educated.
Omair Qasim
Omair Qasim May 15, 2021 9:02PM ET
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poor plastine kids are die with Israel horrible evil bombs.
Catholic Man
CatholicMan May 15, 2021 9:02PM ET
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Long live Israel.
Aiz Mana
Aiz Mana May 15, 2021 9:02PM ET
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why ? Can you elaborate ?
Pat Mathieu
Pat Mathieu May 15, 2021 9:02PM ET
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Poor Palestinian kids who are used like human meat shields by their horrible dads
Tyrone Jackson
Tyrone Jackson May 15, 2021 7:06PM ET
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Quite gentlemen like to give them a warning. I wonder if the owner had insurance ? Ha ha
Hunt Richardson
Hunt Richardson May 15, 2021 5:30PM ET
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Izzy calls Hamas' bluff of operating in civilian areas and buildings where Hamas thinks they wouldn't dare strike
 
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