• February 23, 2024

Israeli Airstrike In Gaza Destroys Building That Housed AP, Other Media : NPR

An Israeli air strike hit the skyscraper that houses The Associated Press offices in Gaza City on Saturday. The attack came about an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building. Hatem Moussa / AP Hide caption

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Hatem Moussa / AP

An Israeli air strike hit the skyscraper that houses The Associated Press offices in Gaza City on Saturday. The attack came about an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building.

Hatem Moussa / AP

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – An Israeli air strike destroyed a skyscraper in Gaza City on Saturday that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets, hours after another air strike on a densely populated refugee camp in the city was killed At least 10 Palestinians from an extended family, mostly children.

The strike on the skyscraper came almost an hour after the military ordered people to evacuate the 12-story building that also housed Al-Jazeera, other offices and residential units. The strike brought down the entire structure, which collapsed in a huge cloud of dust. There was no immediate explanation as to why it was attacked.

The earlier Israeli air strike on the refugee camp in Gaza City was the deadliest single strike in the current conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. Both sides are pushing for an advantage as the ceasefire efforts have grown in strength.

The most recent outbreak of violence began in Jerusalem and spread across the region over the past week, with Jewish-Arab clashes and riots in mixed cities in Israel. There were also widespread Palestinian protests on Friday in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces shot 11 people.

The increasing violence has raised fears of a new Palestinian “intifada” or uprising at a time when there have been no peace talks for years. The Palestinians celebrated Nakba Day (Disaster Day) on Saturday, commemorating the displacement of an estimated 700,000 people who were displaced or fled their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war in connection with its creation. The timing increased the possibility of further unrest.

US diplomat Hady Amr arrived on Friday as part of Washington’s efforts to de-escalate the conflict, and the UN Security Council was due to meet on Sunday. But Israel rejected an Egyptian proposal for a year-long truce that Hamas leaders had accepted, an Egyptian official said Friday on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations.

Israeli security and emergency services are working on Saturday in Ramat Gan, central Israel, at a location hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. Oded Balilty / AP Hide caption

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Oded Balilty / AP

Israeli security and emergency services are working on Saturday in Ramat Gan, central Israel, at a location hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.

Oded Balilty / AP

Since Monday evening, Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel, which has struck the Gaza Strip with strikes. At least 139 people were killed in Gaza, including 39 children and 22 women; Eight people were killed in Israel, including a man who was killed by a rocket in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, on Saturday.

The strike at the building’s media offices came in the afternoon after the owner of the building received a call from the Israeli military warning that it would be hit. AP staff and others in the building were evacuated immediately.

Al-Jazeera, the Qatar government-funded news network, broadcast the air strikes live when the building collapsed.

“This channel will not be silenced. Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,” said an on-air host from Al-Jazeera English in an emotional voice. “We can guarantee you that now.”

The previous Saturday bombing hit a three-story house in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, killing eight children and two women from an extended family.

Mohammed Hadidi told reporters that his wife and five children went to celebrate Eid al-Fitr with relatives. She and three of the children, ages 6-14, were killed while an 11-year-old is missing. It is known that only 5 month old Omar survived.

Children’s toys and a Monopoly board game could be seen in the rubble, as were plates of uneaten food from the holiday gathering.

“There was no warning,” said Jamal Al-Naji, a neighbor who lives in the same building. “You filmed people eating and then bombed them?” he said and addressed Israel. “Why are you confronting us? Go confront the strong people!”

Biden takes subdued action against violence in Israel and Gaza

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Hamas said it fired a volley of rockets into southern Israel in response to the air strike.

An angry Israeli barrage early Friday killed a family of six in their home and sent thousands on the run to UN-run shelters. The military said 160 warplanes dropped around 80 tons of explosives in 40 minutes and managed to destroy a huge network of tunnels used by Hamas.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said the military aims to minimize collateral damage during strikes on military targets. But measures required by other strikes, such as warning shots to get civilians to leave, were “not feasible” this time around.

Israeli media said the military believed dozens of militants were killed in the tunnels. Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant groups have confirmed 20 deaths in their ranks, but the military said the real number is far higher.

The infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, which had largely fallen into disrepair due to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after Hamas came to power in 2007, showed signs of further collapse. The only power station in the area is at risk of running out of fuel in the coming days.

The UN said Gazans are already suffering from 8 to 12 hours of daily power outages and at least 230,000 people have limited access to tap water. The impoverished and densely populated area is home to 2 million Palestinians, most of whom are descendants of refugees from what is now Israel.

The conflict has spread widely. Israeli cities with mixed Arab and Jewish populations have experienced nightly violence, with mobs from each community fighting in the streets and ravaging each other’s property.

Late on Friday, someone threw a fire bomb on the home of an Arab family in Tel Aviv’s Ajami neighborhood and hit two children. A 12-year-old boy was in moderate condition with upper body burns and a 10-year-old girl was treated for a head injury, according to Magen David Adom Ambulance Services.

In the occupied West Bank on the outskirts of Ramallah, Nablus and other cities, hundreds of Palestinians protested against the Gaza campaign and Israeli actions in Jerusalem. They waved Palestinian flags and carried tires, which they set up in burning barricades, and hurled stones at Israeli soldiers. At least 10 demonstrators were shot dead by soldiers. An 11th Palestinian was killed trying to stab a soldier into a military position.

Netanyahu vows that if missiles and clashes increase, Israel will not be ready

In East Jerusalem, an online video showed young Jewish nationalists firing pistols as they exchanged volleys with Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. This became a focal point for tension over attempts by settlers to evict a number of Palestinian families from their homes.

Troops opened fire on Israel’s northern border when a group of Lebanese and Palestinian protesters broke through the border fence and briefly crossed it. One Lebanese was killed. Three rockets were fired at Israel from neighboring Syria without causing any loss or damage. It was not immediately known who fired them.

Tensions began earlier this month in East Jerusalem with Palestinian protests against the evictions of Sheikh Jarrah and Israeli police operations at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent hotspot on a mountain in the Old City that is revered by Muslims and Jews.

Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem late Monday to present itself as the champion of the demonstrators.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that Hamas will pay “a very high price” for its rocket attacks. US President Biden has expressed his support for Israel and said he hopes to bring the violence under control.

According to the Israeli military, Hamas has fired around 2,000 rockets at Israel since Monday. Most have been intercepted by missile defense systems, but they have brought life to a standstill in southern Israeli cities, disrupted airports and set off airstrike sirens in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

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