An Israeli airstrike on Saturday destroyed a high-rise building that housed The Associated Press office in the Gaza Strip, despite repeated urgent calls from the news agency to the military to halt the impending attack. AP called the strike “shocking and horrifying.”
Twelve AP staffers and freelancers were working and resting in the bureau on Saturday afternoon when the Israeli military telephoned a warning, giving occupants of the building one hour to evacuate. Everyone was able to get out, grabbing a few belongings, before three heavy missiles struck the 12-story building, collapsing it into a giant cloud of dust.
Although no one was hurt, the airstrike demolished an office that was like a second home for AP journalists and marked a new chapter in the already rocky relationship between the Israeli military and the international media. Press-freedom groups condemned the attack. They accused the military, which claimed the building housed Hamas military intelligence, of trying to censor coverage of Israel’s relentless offensive against Hamas militants.
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Ahead of the demolition, the AP placed urgent calls to the Israeli military, foreign minister and prime minister’s office but were either ignored or told that there was nothing to be done.
For 15 years, the AP’s top-floor office and roof terrace were a prime location for covering Israel’s conflicts with Gaza’s Hamas rulers, including wars in 2009, 2012 and 2014. The news agency’s camera offered 24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surrounding area this week.
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) May 16, 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,” Gary Pruitt, the AP’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”
Spoke to a well-placed friend in the IDF just now. The bombed AP office building contained multiple Hamas operations & offices including weapons manufacturing and military intelligence. The building also housed an Islamic Jihad office. And AP's local reporters knew about it.
— Noah Pollak (@NoahPollak) May 15, 2021
“This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life,” he said, adding that the AP was seeking information from the Israeli government and was in touch with the U.S. State Department.
He then called out the lies of the AP directly: "One of the, I think, AP journalists said we were lucky to get out. No, you weren't lucky to get out. It wasn't luck. It's because we took special pains to call people in those buildings, to make sure that the premises were vacated" pic.twitter.com/gt6xIO3Lkt
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) May 16, 2021
The building housed a number of offices, including those of the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera. Dozens of residents who lived in apartments on the upper floors were displaced.
A video broadcast by Al-Jazeera showed the building’s owner, Jawwad Mahdi, pleading over the phone with an Israeli intelligence officer to wait 10 minutes to allow journalists to go inside the building to retrieve valuable equipment before it is bombed.
“All I’m asking is to let four people … to go inside and get their cameras,” he said. “We respect your wishes, we will not do it if you don’t allow it, but give us 10 minutes.” When the officer rejected the request, Mahdi said, “You have destroyed our life’s work, memories, life. I will hang up, do what you want. There is a God.”
Late Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the building was used by Hamas military intelligence. “It was not an innocent building,” he said.
Related Story — ‘Difficult to believe’: The Associated Press is slammed for saying it was unaware of Hamas intel operation in their building that Israel razed to the ground: Report from 2014 claims they knew terrorists were there
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, refused to provide evidence backing up the army’s claims, saying it would compromise intelligence efforts. “I think it’s a legitimate request to see more information, and I will try to provide it,” he said.
Conricus said the army is “committed both to journalists, their safety and to their free work.”
For AP journalists, it was a difficult moment. Most of the AP staff has been sleeping in the bureau, which includes four bedrooms in an upstairs apartment, throughout the current round of fighting, believing that the offices of an international news agency were one of the few safe places in Gaza. In a territory crippled by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, it was equipped with a generator that offered the rare comforts of electricity, air conditioning and running water.
AP correspondent Fares Akram said he was resting in an upstairs room when he heard panicked screams from colleagues about the evacuation order. Staffers hastily gathered basic equipment, including laptops and cameras before fleeing downstairs.
“I am heartbroken,” Akram said. “You feel like you are at home. Above all, you have your memories, your friends. You spend most of your time there.”
Al-Jazeera, the news network funded by Qatar’s government, broadcast the airstrikes live as the building collapsed.
“This channel will not be silenced. Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,” Halla Mohieddeen. on-air anchorperson for Al-Jazeera English said, her voice thick with emotion. “We can guarantee you that right now.”
Later in the day, President Joe Biden spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the spiraling violence.
“He raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection,” the White House said.
The Foreign Press Association, which represents some 400 journalists working for international media organizations in Israel and the Palestinian territories, expressed its “grave concern and dismay” over the attack.
“Knowingly causing the destruction of the offices of some of the world’s largest and most influential news organizations raises deeply worrying questions about Israel’s willingness to interfere with the freedom of the press,” it said. “The safety of other news bureaus in Gaza is now in question.”
Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the attack raises concerns that Israel is targeting the media “to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza.” He demanded “detailed and documented justification” for the attack.
The International Press Institute, a global network of journalists and media executives, condemned the attack as a “gross violation of human rights and internationally agreed norms.”
The Israeli military has long had rocky relations with the foreign media, accusing international journalists of being biased against it.
The attack came a day after the Israeli military had fed vague — and in some cases erroneous — information to the media about a possible ground incursion into Gaza. It turned out that there was no ground invasion, and the statement was part of an elaborate ruse aimed at tricking Hamas militants into defensive underground positions that were then destroyed in Israeli airstrikes.
International journalists have accused the army of duping them and turning them into accessories for a military operation. The army said the error was an honest mistake.
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The moral to this story is, If you lay with Dogs,
you may wake up without your office building.
lmao. yes indeed. AP, a self identified “news” organization shares space with an avowed murderous terrorist organization and a war mongering al jazeera that spouts the party line. yet AP cheek by jowl with them, had “no idea” what was going on in that office building. indeed, if the Israelis had not warned them to get out they still wouldn’t get the news that they would soon be falling through space and landing with a big wump. “news” organization my foot.
Considering the APs lack of curiosity, it’s believable that they didn’t know that the building was home to sensitive military intelligence gathering apparatus, shame on them. They fail to realize the gift of being told to evacuate before the strike. Do we think that Hamas would notify anyone in the Israel of their impending attack
I highly DOUBT they ‘didn’t know’ hamas was in the building…
YUP ! s–t happens .
“the airstrike demolished an office that was like a second home for AP journalists and marked a new chapter in the already rocky relationship between the Israeli military and the international media.”
And you people in the Media can’t understand why we the people don’t see you as unbiased?
Since ISRAEL has no 1st amendment, Protecting a free press, WHY CAN’T israel simply KICK THE PRESS the hell out!
It figures the Associated Press would share headquarters with Al Jazeera and Hamas! The Associated Press is obviously sympathetic to Al Jazeera, a news organization who sympathizes with terrorists and the AP is obviously sympathetic to the terrorist organization Hamas.
Israel destroyed some AP Offices? I say … So What
I say “HURRAH!!” Interview me, I’ll extend my heart felt sympathies…to the building, not the media. I might go so far as to say, this is Trump’s revenge…haha,
Pity they can’t do the same to CNN and MSNBC!
NOW, if you can just target the Mosques (including the “Dome of the Rock”) where Terrorists are recruited and encouraged!
NOW that is an idea i firmly agree with!
Do you suppose that the iDF will send them some cheese to go with that whine? My dad started saying in about the 1980’s that there should be an open season on journalists. Well, at that point in my life, that used to embarrass me, but upon 30+ years of reflection, and having seen what the media has become, I have come to the conclusion that my dad’s words were prescient. As journalists deal with words, they know what they are trying to accomplish by saying “we were lucky’ when in fact, as Bibi explained, luck had nothing to do with it. If the US does in fact devolve into Civil War at some point, don’t be surprised if there is a very high casualty rate among the media. If they are comfortable being neighbors to Hamas in a building, maybe they ought to feel comfortable in eternity with them also. 9 Israelis have died in this war, that’s not luck either, it is because of an evil organization which doesn’t care about Israelis OR Palestinians. Those who stomachs are NOT turned by that one fact, are welcome in my country. My gov. might protect them, but they are NOT WELCOME HERE.
Thank you Israel for getting rid of a cesspool of misinformation, malignant
thought and totally evil function. Destroy Hamas, rid Israel of borders
imposed by bad people. The Almighty gave land to Abraham that should
be the correct fit for Israelis, get it all back. Pray for peace, one that is
just, recognized by God and fit’s The Almighty’s desire for His people.
Perhaps Al Jazeera and AP would not be so insanely critical if they were
in one of the Israeli buildings struck by a Hamas rocket without warning.
Then they’d whine that israel didn’t “DO enough to protect them”.
“…a new chapter in the already rocky relationship between the Israeli military and the international media.”
At least no NEWS AGENCIES were damaged.
Who cares? Now a little less FAKE NEWS out of the ME for awhile.
AP called the strike “shocking and horrifying.” What is shocking, horrifying and criminal is AP putting their employees in harms way through stupidity.
Shakespeare wrote in King Henry VI, “The First Thing we Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers”
I wonder if he’d lived today if he might not have said Journalists rather than Lawyers.
OR al politicians!
Hah, the smug self righteous AP, aka Always Propaganda, now know how it feels to have bombs dropped on them & have to run for their lives just like Israelis have had to do for decades.
The IPI, aka International Propaganda Institute, should be condemning the news agencies that associate with / live among Hamas terrorists who as recently as May 7th issued statement calling for Arab Muslims to buy a knife & start cutting off Jews heads.
Lies & propaganda works both ways. This was proved by the fact that the “always blame Israel” media rushed to tip off Hamas about an Israeli ground incursion (a fake leak to the terrorist supporting fake news) which caused Hamas to run underground where Israel dropped some bombs on them.
So, how about some universal condemnation & punishment for news agencies that aid & abet self acknowledged terror orgs like Hamas?
Where is the CNN building ? Could be next ? wink wink
Boom…Boom out go the media lights !!!!!! Oh well, good job Israel !!!!!!!!!!!
So some terrorist and the AP building got blown up. This isn’t news, it’s a celebration!
Which are the worst terrorists though. THE SHLEPS in the AP or those in hamas?
Oh the humanity of it all! That mean IDF lead Hamas to believe they were going invade Gaza with ground forces and they didn’t. They lied to Hamas and did an air offensive instead and destroyed the building they had “office” in. Anyone think Hamas will stop poking the bear? I don’t think so either.
That’s something i constantly get peeved at the left for.. THEY KEEP HAMMING On that “The us needs to step in to quell Israel”, but NOT A DAMN THING IS EVER SAID about “WE need to reign in Hamas!”
Almost like they are saying HAMAS can continue to bomb and kill Israelis, but HOW DARE israel stand up and defend itself.
“Although no one was hurt, the airstrike demolished an office that was like a second home for AP journalists and marked a new chapter in the already rocky relationship between the Israeli military and the international media”. LMFAO! How could their “relationship” get any worse. While I know how bad it would have been from a strictly political viewpoint, it would likely have been a favor to real news reporting, had the offices been fully occupied. Good riddance to bad rubbish. The whole area sticks up too far and needs a “hair cut” with missile clippers.