A 12-storey Gaza tower block housing the offices of the US-based Associated Press and Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera collapsed on Saturday after being struck by Israeli missiles, a Reuters witness said.
The owner of the building, the second tallest in Gaza, had been warned in advance of an impending Israeli missile strike, a Reuters reporter said, and the building had been evacuated.
The Israeli military did not immediately provide comment on the incident.
The building also contained a number of apartments and other offices.
Israel bombed the Gaza tower that housed AP, Al Jazeera & many International news media offices. Hence, clear Isreal wants to intimidate & silence journalists who have exposed their terrorist act in Palestine! #Gaza_Under_Attack pic.twitter.com/UZ3A3GBkV0— Salman Nizami (@SalmanNizami_) May 15, 2021
All AP employees and freelancers evacuated the building safely.
Last week, Gaza’s tallest 13-storey residential was hit by an Israeli air strike on Tuesday night and soon after collapsed.
The tower housed an office that is used by the political leadership of Hamas.
Israeli planes renewed air strikes in Gaza early on Saturday and Hamas retaliated by firing rockets into Israel as their battle entered the fifth night and US and Arab diplomats sought an end to the violence.
Palestinian medics said at least four people were killed in one of several airstrikes in northern Gaza. Residents said Israeli naval boats fired shells from the Mediterranean though none may have hit the strip.
At least 132 people have been killed in Gaza since Monday, including 32 children and 21 women, and 950 others wounded, Palestinian medical officials said.
Meanwhile, AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt has released the following statement:
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt says he's "shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza." Pruitt says AP is seeking information from the Israeli government. https://t.co/0s22koImto— The Associated Press (@AP) May 15, 2021
“We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organisations 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 US 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.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted: “We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.”
We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) May 15, 2021
(With input from News Desk)