The international community expressed its grave concern over the destruction of the Israeli bombing of Qatari Al-Jazeera channel and the American Associated Press (AP)headquarters in Gaza and the killing of eight children, attacks that Palestinian factions responded by firing rockets at Israel, killing one person. About 150 people, the majority of them Palestinians, have been killed since the new round of violence on Monday. According to AFP journalists in Gaza, the 13-storey building housing the teams of both medias collapsed after several missiles hit it.
The Israeli army justified that the building contained military interests affiliated with Hamas’s Military Intelligence, adding: “There are civilian media offices in the building that Hamas covers up and use as human shields.”
The US State Department spokeswoman, Jane Saki, said in a previous tweet: “We told the Israelis directly that ensuring the safety of journalists and independent media is a responsibility of great importance.” The Associated Press expressed its shock and dismay: “We hardly averted huge loss of life,” said Chief Executive Gary Pruitt.
Walid al-Omari, director of the Al-Jazeera office in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said that Israel does not only want “to spread destruction and killing in Gaza, but rather to try to silence the media voices that see, document and convey the truth of what is happening.”
Agence France-Presse, also bombed in 2012 (no journalists harmed), expressed solidarity with colleagues in the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera: “We are very shocked by the fact that media offices have been targeted in this way,” said their news director Phil Stewind.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received a phone call Saturday from US President Joe Biden, the first between them, during which he called on Abbas to “stop the Israeli attacks”. The Palestinian President replied that “security and stability will be achieved when the Israeli occupation ends.”
The Israeli operation, the largest since 2014, began in response to rockets fired by Hamas at Israel after hundreds of Palestinians were injured in clashes with the Israeli police in East Jerusalem and inside Al-Aqsa Mosque.