Israeli airstrike reduces building with media offices to rubble; calls it 'lawful military target'
According to Israeli Defence Forces, they had reportedly warned the tower's owner ahead of the strike. The IDF justified the airstrike on the al-Jalaa Tower in the Gaza Strip, stating that the building was housing "military intelligence assets" belonging to Hamas.
Israeli Defence Forces on Saturday levelled an 11-floor building that housed media organisations, including Qatari television station Al-Jazeera and the American news agency Associated Press, in an airstrike.
According to Israeli Defence Forces, they had reportedly warned the tower's owner ahead of the strike. The IDF justified the airstrike on the al-Jalaa Tower in the Gaza Strip, stating that the building was housing "military intelligence assets" belonging to Palestinian militant outfit Hamas.
Israeli officials claimed that Hamas used the offices belonging to civilian media as human shields.
"Hamas has turned residential areas in the Gaza Strip into military strongholds. It uses tall buildings in Gaza for multiple military purposes such as intelligence gathering, planning attacks, command and control, and communications. When Hamas uses a tall building for military purposes, it becomes a lawful military target," the IDF said in a statement.
"We called the building's residents and warned them to leave. We sent SMS messages. We dropped roof knocker bombs; they make loud noises and hit only the roof. We provided sufficient time to evacuate. We will repeat it: When Hamas places military assets inside such a building, it becomes a lawful military target. This is clear international law," the IDF statement added.
However, the Israeli airstrike drew condemnation from the Associated Press.
Terming the attack as an incredibly disturbing development, Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement, "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."
"World would know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today," he added.
The airstrikes came when senior American envoy Hady Amr landed in Jerusalem to help broker a cease-fire.
Amr, the United States deputy assistant secretary of state for Israel and Palestinian affairs, is scheduled to meet senior Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The latest conflict between Israel and Hamas has claimed the lives of 139 people and injured 950 others in the Gaza Strip. Ten people lost their lives in Israel. On Saturday, an Israeli man was killed after a barrage of rocket fire targeted Tel Aviv and central Israel.
In retaliation, Israel mounted ground and airstrikes in Gaza. According to the IDF, Hamas has fired more than 2300 rockets at central and southern Israel since Monday.
In a video statement on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would deliver significant blows to Hamas and other terror groups.
"Hamas leaders think they can escape from us. They cannot. We can reach them everywhere -- and we will continue to do so," he said.