A ball of fire erupts from a building housing various international media, including The Associated Press, after an Israeli airstrike on Saturday, May 15, 2021 in Gaza City. The attack came roughly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building, which also housed Al-Jazeera and a number of offices and apartments. There was no immediate explanation for why the building was targeted. (Mahmud Hams /Pool Photo via AP)
Offices of AP and Al Jazeera in Gaza destroyed in Israeli bombing
KATHMANDU, May 16: The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, condemned the attack on the building housing the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera Network in Gaza by the Israeli defence forces.
“The targeting of news organizations is completely unacceptable, even during an armed conflict. It represents a gross violation of human rights and internationally agreed norms”, IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the IPI. “During times of crisis, the media plays a fundamental role in offering timely, accurate and fair information about developments on the ground. Israel must immediately stop such attacks against news organizations.”
According to media reports, a high-rise building in Gaza city that housed the offices of The Associated Press and Al Jazeera Media Network was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike. Journalists and media staff working in the building had been evacuated following a warning by the Israeli forces to the owner of the building.
In a statement, The Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt condemned the attack describing it as an incredibly disturbing development. “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”, Pruitt said. “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”
Similarly, the Acting Director-General of Al Jazeera Dr Mostefa Souag described the attack as “a clear act to stop journalists from conducting their sacred duty to inform the world and report events on the ground.”
“The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza” Souag added. “The destruction of Al Jazeera offices and that of other media organizations in al-Jalaa tower in Gaza is a blatant violation of human rights and is internationally considered a war crime. We call on all media and human rights institutions in denouncing this heinous crime, and to stand with Al Jazeera and other media organizations targeted by the Israeli army, despite knowing their use of the building as their headquarters for many years.”
According to IPI, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate reported that the offices of 12 media houses were destroyed when another multi-storied building in Gaza city was attacked by Israeli forces on May 12.