The Israeli army has destroyed the offices of several international media outlets, including the Associated Press news agency and the pan-Arab network Al Jazeera in the Gaza Strip.
The attack was carried out against the Al-Jalah building, one of the tallest in the enclave, which had been cleared because the Israeli army had communicated an evacuation notice to the building’s owner, Abu Husam, an hour earlier.
The demolition of the building, captured by television images, was later confirmed by Al Jazeera producer Liná al Safin on her Twitter account.
Minutes later, the Israeli Army confirmed its responsibility for the destruction of the building. The reason, it claims, is that the tower housed “military assets” used by the military intelligence wing of the Islamist movement Hamas.
The Israeli army thus accuses Hamas of “hiding behind” the media offices in the al-Jalah tower and “using its tenants as human shields.”
“The Hamas terrorist group intentionally places its military assets in the hearts of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip,” it added in a statement picked up by ‘The Times of Israel’ in which it recalls that it warned those in the building before the attack and says it gave them enough time to evacuate.
AP President Gary Pruitt said he was “shocked and appalled” by the Israeli attack. “They knew for a long time where our office was and they knew there were journalists there. We received a warning that the building would be attacked,” Pruitt said in a statement.
Al Jazeera also condemned the Israeli attack, “a clear act to prevent journalists from carrying out their sacred task of informing the world.” “Al-Jazeera promises to pursue all available avenues to hold the Israeli government accountable for its actions,” he added.
Meanwhile, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki has also referred to the bombing, although to tersely emphasize in a message on Twitter the importance of ensuring the safety of the press.