A building that was home to media outlets Al Jazeera and the AP in Gaza City was destroyed in an Israeli air raid Saturday (May 15), according to Al Jazeera.
It was unclear whether there were any casualties, though Al Jazeera reported that Israel had warned occupants of the building, including the journalists, to evacuate an hour before the attack.
The AP said on its website that its staffers and other residents of the building had all evacuated following that call from Israeli military, after which three missiles struck the building, reducing it to rubble.
AP had occupied top floor offices for the last 15 years, including 24-hour live shots of the rockets aimed at Israel and the Israeli airstrikes like the one that leveled the building.
“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” said AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt 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.”
According to the New York Times, the Israeli military said it struck the building because it also housed military assets of Hamas and the AP said the military claimed Hamas was using journalists to shield those assets. But AP said it provided no evidence that was the case.
Only the day before had it been called for Israeli forces to ensure that journalists could cover the conflict freely and safely. Following the attack on the building, CPJ Middle East and North Africa representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado said: "It is utterly unacceptable for Israel to bomb and destroy the offices of media outlets and endanger the lives of journalists, especially since Israeli authorities know where those media outlets are housed," and reiterated CPJ's call for protections. "Israeli authorities must ensure that journalists can do their jobs safely without fear of being injured or killed.”
According to Reporters Without Borders, Israeli airstrikes during the conflict have already destroyed buildings housing numerous media outlets including the pan-Arab TV channel Al-Araby and radio and TV outlet Al-Aqsa, with Israel saying Hamas was hiding weapons in those buildings as well.
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