NEW YORK, May 15. /TASS/. The Associated Press news agency is shocked and horrified by the destruction of a building in the Gaza Strip where its office was located by Israel’s air strikes on Saturday.
"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 are seeking information from the Israeli government and are engaged with the U.S. State Department to try to learn more," the agency quoted its President and CEO Gary Pruitt as saying.
The AP president also noted that they received a warning that the building would be hit. According to him, before the strike, "a dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building and thankfully we were able to evacuate them in time." He added that "the world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."
The eleven-story building in Gaza where offices of several international media outlets, apartments and businesses were located was hit by four Israeli missiles on Saturday, becoming the fourth high-rise destroyed by Israel’s air strikes on the Gaza Strip. According to Al Arabiya TV channel, Al Jalaa building housed an office of this Qatari TV channel, as well as the Associated Press and other media outlets. According to the Israel Defense Forces, the building contained the military equipment belonging to the Hamas movement while the offices of the media outlets were used by this organization as "human shields."
An exchange of missile strikes between Israel and Palestinian radicals from the Gaza Strip began on May 10 following an outbreak of violence near the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City in early May. Clashes between the Palestinians and the Israeli police were triggered by an Israeli court ruling to seize dwelling houses in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood from Arab families who have been living there for more than 50 years in favor of Jewish resettlers who had reportedly owned these buildings before 1948. According to the latest data, no less than ten Israelis were killed, the Palestinian side reports almost 140 fatalities, including almost 40 children.