(Associated Press) News organizations demanded an explanation Saturday for an Israeli airstrike that targeted and destroyed a Gaza City building housing the offices of The Associated Press, broadcaster Al-Jazeera and other media outlets.
AP journalists and other tenants were safely evacuated from the 12-story al-Jalaa tower after the Israeli military warned of an imminent strike. Three heavy missiles hit the building within the hour, disrupting coverage of the ongoing conflict between’ Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel. At least 145 people in Gaza and eight in Israel have been killed since the fighting erupted on Monday night.
Kuwait state television also had office space in the now-collapsed Gaza City building.
Israeli military said that Hamas was operating inside the building, and it accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields.
Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus claimed that Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office and weapons development. He said “a highly advanced technological tool” that the militant group used in the fighting was “within or on the building.”
But Conricus said he could not provide evidence to back up the claims without “compromising” intelligence efforts. He added, however: “I think it’s a legitimate request to see more information, and I will try to provide it.”
The bombing followed media consternation over an Israeli military statement that prompted some news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, to erroneously report early Friday that Israel had launched a ground invasion of Gaza.
The AP, based on its analysis of the army’s statement, phone calls to military officials and on the ground reporting in Gaza, concluded there was no ground incursion and did not report there was one.
The next day, Akram tweeted about running from the building and watching its destruction from afar.
The New York Times joined other news organizations in expressing alarm about the targeting of al-Jalaa tower.
“The ability of the press to report on the ground is a profoundly important issue that has an impact on everyone.” the newspaper’s vice president of communications, Danielle Rhoades Ha, said. “A free and independent press is essential to helping to inform people, bridge differences and end the conflict.”