On Saturday, an IDF airstrike destroyed a 12 story building that was being used by Hamas as a center for military intelligence. The airstrike was carried out after Israeli intelligence called the occupants and warned them of the impending strike.
After providing advance warning to civilians & time to evacuate, IDF fighter jets struck a multi-story building containing Hamas military intelligence assets.
The building contained civilian media offices, which Hamas hides behind and deliberately uses as human shields. pic.twitter.com/zeDjEquePD
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 15, 2021
#VIDEO Al Jazeera broadcast footage showing the building collapsing to the ground after the Israeli air strike, sending up a huge mushroom cloud of dust and debrishttps://t.co/2czISM0AkC pic.twitter.com/X5CuNpl5I5
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) 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 organizations 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.
#UPDATE The Associated Press said Saturday it was “shocked and horrified” by an Israeli airstrike that destroyed a building housing the US news agency’s Gaza bureau and those of other international news mediahttps://t.co/zxP5ehR1tB
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) May 15, 2021
Pruitt did not explain why the AP reporting did not include the fact that Hamas was using the same building for terrorist activity or whether their news agency was knowingly acting as human shields for Hamas. A video was posted on Twitter showing journalists calmly packing up their equipment after being warned of the impending IDF strike:
Video shows AP, AJ and other journalists gathering their equipments and gear to evacuate their offices in the 12-story al-Jala’ residential building in the heart of Gaza before bombed and destroyed it to the ground by missiles fired from its warplanes today. #Gaza #غزة_الآن pic.twitter.com/jCtctH0O4R
— Ali Younes (@Ali_reports) May 15, 2021
The White House was equally critical of the airstrike. White House press secretary Jenn Psaki tweeted about the incident on Saturday, failing to mention the Hamas use of the building or the measures the IDF went to in order to ensure the safety of the media personnel.
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
This is footage of the Gazan contractor of the building talking in Arabic to an Israeli army Intelligence officer one hour after he was warned that the IDF would take the building down because it is being used as the enemy’s base. The local Gazan astonishingly says “we respect your decision” but as a mediator, he asks for 10 more minutes for the agencies to take out the rest of their equipment. The officer refuses, stating they already had an hour and he doesn’t want these people going back in because it is dangerous for them.
The IDF responded, noting that by international law, the building was classified as a valid military target.
“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,” the IDF posted on Twitter. “When Hamas uses a tall building for military purposes, it becomes a lawful military target. The Israel Defense Forces struck a number of such buildings in recent days, but before we did so, we took steps to try and ensure that civilians would not be harmed. 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’ll say it again: When Hamas places military assets inside such a building, it becomes a lawful military target. This is clear international law.”
Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have fired more than 2,300 rockets at Israeli civilian centers since last Monday night. The IDF has confirmed that approximately one-third of the rockets fall inside Gaza and have been responsible for the deaths of several Palestinians. Ten Israelis, including a young child, have been killed in the rocket fire, and hundreds have been injured.