An Israeli airstrike on Saturday destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed the offices of the Associated Press, Al-Jazeera, and other offices and residential apartments. Earlier in the day, a raid on an overcrowded refugee camp killed at least 10 Palestinians.
The victims were from the same extended family and included seven children. The strike on the refugee camp was the single deadliest event of the latest conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The father of four of the children who died told reporters that they were in Shati to visit his wife’s brother for Eid al-Fitr, an Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. A statement from the Israel Defense Forces said that it had “attacked a number of Hamas terror organization senior officials, in an apartment used as terror infrastructure in the area of the Al Shati refugee camp.”
The strike on the high-rise building came later in the day, an hour after an Israeli military leader called the owner of the building to warn that it would be hit. AP staff evacuated immediately. So far, no deaths have been reported. According to the Associated Press, Al-Jazeera, which is owned by Qatar’s government, broadcast the strike live. “This channel will not be silenced. Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,” said an on-air anchorwoman. “We can guarantee you that right now.” After being struck, the building crumbled to the ground in a cloud of dust. While there was no immediate explanation for the attack on the high-rise, Israel has since said the building contained “military assets belonging to the intelligence offices of the Hamas terror organization."
In reaction to the strike, AP’s president and CEO Gary Pruitt said the news organization is “shocked and horrified” by the strike. "We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life," he said, adding that "the world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."Al Jazeera also released a statement regarding the strike that called for international condemnation of Israel’s actions. The news network characterized the strike as a "blatant violation of human rights" and a "war crime." In the United States, Press Secretary Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter that the White House has been in touch with the Israelis and expressed to them that “that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.”
Saturday’s strikes occurred amid international efforts to de-escalate the current conflict which began a week ago when Palestinians protested the Sheikh Jarrah evictions and the Israeli policing of the Al-Asque mosque which left over 600 Palestinians injured or wounded. While both countries have expressed tentative interest in a ceasefire, the AP recently reported that Israel rejected an Egyptian proposal of a one-year truce that Hamas leaders had accepted.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr arrived in Israel on Friday to help negotiate a ceasefire. According to multiple outlets, he is scheduled to meet with senior Israeli and Palistenian officials in the West Bank and Jerusalem. He will also take part in a meeting with the UN Security council on Sunday.
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