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The prominent 12-storey building in Gaza City that was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Saturday was not only restricted to the offices of media organizations including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.
It also offered a prime location to the world on Gaza, where AP cameras placed on the roof terrace captured the Israeli shelling and rocket attacks by Palestinian militants during the outbreak of the fighting periodically. Including over the past week.
“The world will not know much about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” Associated Press President Gary Pruitt said in a statement after the Israeli attack.
The evacuation tower settlement, which took place at a time when fighting escalated between Israelis and Palestinians on several fronts, sparked condemnation from all over the world. The Israeli army said its fighter jets bombed the tower because it also contained military assets owned by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) that rules the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Pruitt called on the IDF to provide evidence to support his claim, adding that the news agency had operated from the building for 15 years.
He said, “We have no indication that Hamas was in the building or was active in the building.” “This is something we actively verify to the best of our ability. We will not intentionally put our journalists at risk.”
On Sunday, the Israeli army chirp That the building was an “important operating base” for Hamas’s military intelligence, where “intelligence information was gathered to launch attacks against Israel, weapons and equipment were installed to disrupt the IDF’s operations.”
The IDF – which repeatedly accuses Hamas of using civilians as shields – has provided a advance warning to the civilians in the building to allow evacuation. The Associated Press reported that the owner of the building, Jawad Mahdi, was informed that he “has an hour to make sure everyone leaves the building.”
In the minutes before the airstrike, Mr. Mahdi was filmed pleading desperately to the Israeli army, asking them to allow four journalists who were filming an interview – with the father of four children killed in An Israeli raid on a refugee camp On Saturday morning – 10 extra minutes to get their belongings back.
An Israeli soldier told him, “There won’t be 10 minutes.”
Minutes later, the building was destroyed, sank in a column of black smoke.
The Associated Press said it “narrowly escaped the heavy loss of life,” and that dozens of journalists and freelance workers inside the building were evacuated before the strike. The building also houses apartments on the lower floors.
Press freedom groups said the strike – came a day after the Israeli army was established Foreign media said the error That ground forces entered Gaza – raising concerns that Israel is interfering with independent reporting on the conflict. In a statement to her, based in New York Committee to Protect Journalists He wondered whether the Israeli army was “deliberately targeting media facilities in order to disrupt the coverage of human suffering in Gaza.”
White House spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki chirp The United States “has directly informed the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is of the utmost responsibility.” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “deeply disturbed” by the raid and warned that “the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and media professionals” violated international law.
After the strike, journalists from other news organizations gathered near the rubble. “It is clear that this aims to silence the truth and the voices of the journalists,” said Heba Aqeela, the Al Jazeera journalist who was broadcasting from the tower when the warning call was launched.
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