Gaza City: An AFP reporter said that an Israeli air strike on Saturday destroyed the 13-story building of Al Jazeera in Qatar and the Associated Press of the U.S. News Agency in the Gaza Strip.
Al Jazeera said on Twitter that Israel “destroyed the Yalata in the Gaza Strip, which contains Al Jazeera and other international news offices.” The Associated Press reporter said that the army had warned the owners of the tower before the strike.
A video broadcast by Al Jazeera showed that the building collapsed on the ground after the Israeli air strike, emitting huge mushroom-like dust and debris.
Jawad Mehdi, the owner of the Jala Tower, said an Israeli intelligence officer warned him he had just one hour to ensure the evacuation of the building.
In a phone call with the officer, AFP heard him beg for an extra 10 minutes to allow journalists to retrieve their equipment before leaving.
“Give us ten extra minutes,” he urged, but the officer on the other end of the line refused.
Wael al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Gaza told AFP: “It’s terrible, very sad, to target the Al Jazeera and other press bureaux”.
Israel alleged its “fighter jets attacked a high-rise building which hosted military assets belonging to the military intelligence of the Hamas terror organisation”.
“The building also hosted offices of civilian media outlets, which the Hamas terror group hides behind and uses as human shields,” it said.
Health officials in the coastal enclave said that since Monday, Israeli air and artillery attacks on Gaza have killed 139 people, including 39 children, and injured 1,000 others.