May 15, 2021: May 15, 2021: A 12-storey Gaza tower housing AP, Al Jazeera collapsed on Saturday after being struck by Israeli missiles, a Reuters witness said. The 11-storey Al-Jalaa building housed the offices of the US-based Associated Press and Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera.
The strike came nearly an hour after the military ordered people to evacuate the building, which also housed Al-Jazeera, other offices and residential apartments.
The strike brought the entire 12-storey building down, collapsing with a gigantic cloud of dust. There was no immediate explanation for why it was attacked.
Gaza tower housing AP, Al Jazeera collapsed, no casualties reported so far
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 a number of residences and other offices, crashing to the ground after being bombed as dust and debris flew into the air.
The building also housed The Associated Press news agency bureau.
Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout, reporting from Gaza City, 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”.
I have been covering lots of events from this building,” he said. “We have lots of good memories with our colleagues.”
Along with many other structures hit earlier, Gaza tower housing AP, Al Jazeera collapsed
Scores of structures have been demolished, sometimes after a warning phone call or missile “tap”, by Israeli attacks in the Palestinian enclave.
“Now, one can understand the feeling of the people whose homes have been destroyed by such kind of air attacks,” al-Kahlout said.
“It’s really difficult to wake up one day and then you realise that your office is not there with all the career experiences, memories that you’ve had.”
Israel justifies strike, says building housed military assets
Israel alleged 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.
Associated Press expresses shock and horror at the Israeli airstrike
Meanwhile, AP said Saturday it was “shocked and horrified” by the Israeli airstrike.
“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.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration had told the Israelis that safety and security of journalists was “a paramount responsibility”.