An Israeli airstrike has destroyed the offices of several international media outlets in Gaza, with the footage broadcast live on TV as it occurred.
The high-rise building housed the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera, among others. It was also partly a residential building, home to a number of civilians.
According to AP, the Israeli military called the building with a warning about the impending airstrike, and giving occupants an hour to evacuate.
Once everyone was out, the 12-storey building was struck by three heavy missiles, completely demolishing it.
No-one was hurt in the strike, but international condemnation has been swift. AP, who occupied the top floor of the building for the last 15 years, describes the office as “a second home for AP journalists”, and says that their pleas to call off the strike were ignored or dismissed.
Gary Pruit, the AP’s president and chief executive, said in a statement:
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
The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.
An Israeli airstrike destroyed the Al Jazeera office in Gaza. The Israeli military warned they would hit the building that houses media organizations including the AP.— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 15, 2021
Journalists who worked there had been reporting on the Israeli attacks on Gaza. pic.twitter.com/fZVo3TFEoO
Acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, Dr Mostefa Souag, joined in decrying the strike:
The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza. The destruction of Al Jazeera offices and that of other media organisations in al-Jalaa tower in Gaza is a blatant violation of human rights and is internationally considered a war crime. We call on all media and human rights institutions in denouncing this heinous crime, and to stand with Al Jazeera and other media organisations targeted by the Israeli army, despite knowing their use of the building as their headquarters for many years.
The Israeli army has insisted that the strike was targeting Hamas’s military intelligence services, which they say were housed in the same building.