Israel slammed for strike on AP, Al Jazeera Gaza offices in attack on Hamas



Israel came under heavy criticism on Saturday for striking a 12-story tower in Gaza, housing the offices of foreign media affiliates such as the Associated Press, Al Jazeera and other news outlets. 

The United States government, AP and Al Jazeera each publicly expressed their concerns with the operation moments after the strike.

The IAF struck the high-rise building, which also housed a number of apartments and various offices, on the notion that it contained “military assets of the military intelligence” of Hamas hiding under the guise of the foreign media outlets, an IDF spokesperson said.

“The building housed the offices of civilian media, which the terrorist organization Hamas hides behind and uses as human shields. 
The terror organization Hamas deliberately places its military assets in the heart of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in a statement, adding that “prior to the attack, the IDF warned the civilians who were in the building and gave them sufficient time to evacuate.”

The strike raised concern from Al Jazeera, the AP and the United States, who all voiced their opinions over the IAF operation with disquiet.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the United States had contacted Israel, imploring them to ensure the “safety and security of journalists” after the high-rise was destroyed.

“We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility,” Psaki wrote on Twitter.
The AP and Al Jazeera had each expressed their concerns in harsher words, condemning the airstrike in the strongest terms.

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt called the strike “an incredibly disturbing development.” He said a dozen AP journalists and freelancers had been in the building, but had been evacuated in time.

“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,” he said in a statement.

“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”

The acting director general of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network, Dr Mostefa Souag, called the strike “barbaric” and said Israel should be held accountable.

“The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza,” he said in a statement.

IDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus rejected the notion that Israel was seeking to silence the media. “That is false, the media is not the target,” he told Reuters.

Hamas later warned the residents of Tel Aviv and central Israel to expect a response for that airstrike.

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