The United States told Israel “that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility,” White House’s Jen Psaki said after Israel’s military brought down a 12-storey tower block in Gaza City that housed the U.S. Associated Press and Qatar-based Al Jazeera media operations, Reuters reports.
The AP and Al Jazeera strongly condemned the attack that came after Israel gave an hour advance warning so it could be evacuated, claiming later that the building contained military assets of Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza.
Al Jazeera shared footage of the building being hit and tweeted: “Israeli air raid flattens building that houses Al Jazeera and other international media outlets in Gaza City.”
At the same time, AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said that they are “shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza.”
According to Pruitt, Israel has long known the location of AP 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. This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life. A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building and thankfully we were able to evacuate them in time. The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” he warned.