JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli airstrike on Saturday destroyed a high-rise building where the Associated Press was based in the Gaza Strip, despite a news agency urgent call for an immediate end to the impending attack. The AP called the strike “shocking and terrible”.
On Saturday afternoon, twelve Freelancers were resting at the Bureau when the Israeli military issued a warning, giving residents of the building an hour to evacuate. Everyone managed to get out, grabbing a few items, while three heavy rockets hit the 12-story building, collapsing it into a huge cloud of dust.
Although no one was injured, the airstrike destroyed the office, which resembled the second residence of AP reporters, and re-established itself in an already close relationship with the Israeli military and international media. Freedom of the press groups condemned the attack. They accused the military of claiming that the building housed Hamas military intelligence in an attempt to censor Israel’s relentless crackdown on Hamas militants.
Ahead of the demolition, the AP urgently called the Israeli military, the foreign minister and the prime minister’s office, but was either ignored or told there was nothing to do.
For 15 years, the AP’s top-floor office անի rooftop terrace has been a major source of coverage of Israeli conflicts with Gaza rulers, including the 2009, 2012 and 2014 wars. The news agency’s camera offered 24-hour live footage as the militants’ missiles were arched. Israeli airstrikes hit the city and its environs this week.
“We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli armed forces will target, demolish the Gaza Bureau’s building and other media outlets,” said Gary Pruitt, chief of The General Staff. “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza today.”
“It simply came to our notice then. “We narrowly avoided the horrific loss of life,” he said, adding that the AP was seeking information from the Israeli government and was in contact with the US State Department.
The building housed a number of offices, including the Arab Al-Azira Azira satellite channel. Dozens of upstairs residents have been displaced.
A video broadcast by Al-aze Azira shows the building’s owner, Awad Mahdi, begging an Israeli intelligence officer over the phone to wait 10 minutes for journalists to enter the building to retrieve valuable equipment before bombing it.
“I just ask that I allow four people to come in and take their cameras,” he said. “We respect your wishes, we will not do it if you do not allow it, but give us 10 minutes.” When the officer refused the request, Mahdi said. “You have destroyed the work, the memories, the life of our lives. I will stand up, do what you want. There is a God. ”
Late Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the building had been used by Hamas military intelligence. “It was not an innocent building,” he said.
Israel usually cites the presence of Hamas as a reason to target buildings. It also accused the group of using journalists as human shields.
Spokesman Innovative spokesman Lt. Col. Jon Onathan Conricus declined to comment on the military’s allegations, saying it would jeopardize intelligence efforts. “I think it is a legal requirement to see more information, I will try to provide it,” he said.
Conricus said the army was “committed to journalists, their safety and their free work.”
It was a difficult time for AP journalists. Throughout the fighting, most of the AP personnel slept in the bureau, which includes four bedrooms on the top floor, which is considered one of the few safe havens in Gaza. In the area devastated by the Israeli-Egyptian blockade, it was equipped with a generator that offered rare facilities for electricity, air conditioning and running water.
AP correspondent Fares Akram said he was resting in a room upstairs when he heard panicked screams from colleagues about the evacuation order. The crew quickly packed up their basic equipment, including laptops and cameras, before fleeing.
“I am heartbroken,” Akram said. “You feel at home. First of all, you have your memories, your friends. You spend most of your time there. ”
The Qatari government-funded Alaze Azira news network broadcast live air strikes during the building collapse.
“This channel will not be silent. “Al-Aze Azira will not be silent,” said Halla Mohiedin. The host of “Al-Jazeera English” said. his voice was full of emotion. “We can guarantee you that right now.”
Early Sunday night, Hamas fired rockets into the Tel Aviv capital, saying it was revenge for leveling the high-rise building.
President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about spiraling violence.
“He raised concerns about the safety of journalists, strengthened the need to protect them,” the White House said in a statement.
The Foreign Press Association, which represents about 400 journalists working for international media outlets in Israel and the Palestinian territories, expressed its “grave concern and concern” over the attack.
“Israel’s willingness to intervene in the freedom of the press raises concerns about the deliberate destruction of the offices of some of the world’s most influential media outlets,” it said. “The security of other Gaza news outlets is now in question.”
The committee’s executive director, El Oel Simon, said the attack raised concerns that Israel was targeting the media “for obstructing coverage of human suffering in Gaza.” He demanded that the attack be “thoroughly documented”.
The International Press Institute, a global network of journalists and media executives, condemned the attack as a “gross violation of internationally agreed human rights norms.”
The Israeli military has long been linked to foreign media, accusing international journalists of being biased against it.
The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a gathering of Israeli military officials, undisclosed, and in some cases misinformed, about the possible land invasion of Gaza. It turned out that there was no ground invasion, the statement was part of a plot to deceive Hamas militants into underground defense positions, which were later destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.
International journalists accuse the army of falsifying itself and turning it into military equipment. The army said the mistake was an honest mistake.