Israeli airstrike that destroyed a 12-story building in Gaza City which housed the offices of the Associated Press, Al Jazeera and other media outlets, which sparked outrage from press defenders on Saturday, and AP executives called it an “incredibly disturbing” event in the conflict.
“We are shocked and terrified that the Israeli military will target and destroy the building that houses the AP bureau and other news organizations in Gaza,” AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement.
Pruitt said the Israeli military “have known the location of our bureau for a long time and knew that there were journalists there.” The agency received a warning that the building would be hit, allowing time for an evacuation.
“This is an incredibly disturbing event. We narrowly escaped the terrible loss of life. A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building and luckily we were able to evacuate them in time, “Pruitt said, adding,” Because of what happened today, the world will know less about what is happening in Gaza. ” …
According to Pruitt, AP is asking Israel for information about the explosion and is “negotiating” with the US State Department.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration “told the Israelis directly that it is the first responsibility to ensure the safety of journalists and independent media.”
The attack on the press services occurred a day after the IDF official made the international press believe that Israeli ground forces entered Gaza and they did not. While a spokesman said the mistake was honest, prominent Israeli news outlets said it was a deliberate attempt to smoke out Hamas militants.
The building that housed the media offices was mostly residential. It collapsed into a massive cloud of dust, video and field reports show.
Earlier in the day, another air raid on the refugee camp killed at least 10 Palestinians, mostly children, in the deadliest strike by Israeli forces in the current conflict, which escalated sharply earlier this month. At least 139 people have been killed in Gaza to date, including 39 children, according to AP.
IN series of tweetsThe Israel Defense Forces justified the blow, saying that the Hamas militant group “has turned residential areas in the Gaza Strip into military strongholds.”
“He uses tall buildings in Gaza for a variety of military purposes such as intelligence gathering, attack planning, command and control, and communications,” the IDF said. “When Hamas uses a tall building for military purposes, it becomes a legitimate military target.”
The IDF said they called residents of the building with warnings, sent SMS messages and dropped bombs “with a cover” that emit loud noise on the roofs as an evacuation warning.
Ethical Journalism Network Founder Aidan White said Al Jazeera that the images of the destroyed press services are “shameful”.
“The threat to the life of the civilian population is completely unacceptable. I think this further underscores the dangerous risks that journalists and media face in conflict zones, ”White told a television station that receives funding from the Qatari government.
The International Federation of Journalists also condemned the attack, calling it deliberate.
In the United States, the scale of Israel’s response to rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip has generated a notable surge of criticism, including from elected officials who have long refrained from harsh statements about a US ally. An increasing number of Democrats in the House of Representatives have begun to oppose Israel’s attacks, led by Michigan State Representative Rashida Tlaibwho is a Palestinian American.
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