The Al-jalaa building that housed international media offices including Al Jazeera and Associated Press offices in the Gaza Strip has been hit by an Israeli air raid that demolished the structure.
It was not immediately clear if there were casualties in Saturday’s attack. Live Al Jazeera video showed the 11-storey al-Jalaa building, which also houses several residences and other offices, crashing to the ground after being bombed as dust and debris flew into the air.
A statement from Al Jazeera condemned the attack, calling on “all media and human right institutions to join forces” in denouncing the bombing and to “hold the government of Israel accountable”.
“Al Jazeera condemns in the strongest terms the bombing and destruction of its offices by the Israeli military in Gaza and views this as a clear act to stop journalists from conducting their sacred duty to inform the world and report events on the ground,” the statement reads.
“Al Jazeera promises to pursue every available route to hold the Israeli government responsible for its actions.”
Meanwhile, the AP said on Saturday it was “shocked and horrified” by the Israeli air attack.“This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life,” AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement.
“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” Pruitt said.
Israel said its “fighter jets attacked a high-rise building which hosted military assets belonging to the military intelligence of the Hamas terror organisation”.
“The building also hosted offices of civilian media outlets, which the Hamas terror group hides behind and uses as human shields,” it said.
Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout, said a resident of the building received a call from the Israeli army warning of the impending attack about an hour before it was hit.
Al-Kahlout, who was in the building at the time, said he and colleagues “started to collect as much as they could, from the personnel and equipment of the office, especially the cameras”.
Press freedom advocates have sharply condemned Israel’s bombing of a Gaza building that housed the offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press news agency, calling it a brazen attempt to “silence” journalists covering the Israeli military’s ongoing offensive that has killed scores of people.
Reacting to the news of the attack, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration had told the Israelis that the safety and security of journalists was “a paramount responsibility”.
We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.
At least 140 people have been killed in Gaza, including 39 children and 22 women, since the Israeli bombardment began on Monday.
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