Early Saturday morning, the Israeli airforce dropped a missile on a highrise building in Gaza City housing the offices of numerous international media outlets, demolishing it completely and reducing it to rubble. The head of the Associated Press worldwide stated, “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”
While Israeli officials claimed “the building was used by Hamas for cover”, they offered no evidence to support this claim. Israeli forces have been found in the past by international human rights investigations to have repeatedly targeted journalists, medics, schools, libraries and cultural centers while using ‘Hamas’ as a wholesale excuse, but offering no evidence.
In fact, one Human Rights Watch report found in its investigation of a similar Israeli bombardment of media outlets in 2012 that the Israeli military stated outright that it was targeting media outlets because they were not critical enough of the Hamas party in their coverage. “A Human Rights Watch visit to the building one week after the strikes and interviews with employees from four of the five offices, including al-Sawaf, uncovered no information to suggest that any of them were used for military operations. In the absence of a demonstrated military objective, the strikes over two days were unlawful attacks on civilian objects, Human Rights Watch said.”
The building destroyed on Saturday May 15th, 2021 was well-known as the home of internationally renowned media outlets including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.
The Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt issued the following statement Saturday about the bombing of their offices:
“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. They have long known the location of our bureau and knew journalists were there. We received a warning that the building would be hit.
“We are seeking information from the Israeli government and are engaged with the U.S. State Department to try to learn more.
“This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life. A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building and thankfully we were able to evacuate them in time.
“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”
This is the second media high-rise this week that the Israeli military has destroyed in its massive bombardment of the Gaza Strip. On Wednesday night, Israeli bombs targeted and reduced to rubble the al-Jawhara tower building in Gaza, which housed a number of international media outlets.
On Thursday, the International Federation of Journalists condemned the wholesale destruction of media offices by the Israeli military, stating “On the night of 11 May, the Israeli military bombed the Al-Jawhara tower, located in Gaza, which hosts the offices of 13 media institutions and NGOs. The PJS said the attack was deliberate and targeted. There were no injuries as journalists evacuated their offices after the Israeli army warned some of the media that the building would be bombed. However, media organisations lost their equipment. The IFJ said the Israeli government must compensate the media for their financial losses.
“The offices of the media organizations – The National Information Agency, Palestine Newspaper, Al-Arabi Channel, Al-Ittijah TV, Al-Nujaba TV, the Syrian TV, Al-Kufiya Channel, Al Mamalaka channel, APA Agency, Sabq Agency 24, Bawaba 24, the Palestinian Media Forum, the Palestinian Forum for Democratic Dialogue and Development – were completely destroyed. The offices of Al-Jazeera TV, adjacent to the targeted building, were also damaged.”