Three powerful missiles slammed into the 12-story structure, causing it to collapse in a massive cloud of dust. The offices of media outlets such as The Associated Press and Al Jazeera were located in the famous building in Gaza City that was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Saturday. The AP's president, Gary Pruitt described the strike as "shocking and horrifying."
After the military telephoned an alert that the attack would begin in an hour, AP staffers and other tenants safely evacuated the house.
The destruction of the al Jalaa tower, which took place as fighting between Israelis and Palestinians escalated on several fronts, drew international condemnation.
The previous Israeli airstrike on the Gaza City refugee camp was the deadliest single attack in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, a militant group controlling the Gaza strip. As cease-fire efforts gained traction, both sides pressed for an advantage.
The most recent outbreak of violence began in Jerusalem last week after the Supreme Court ordered the eviction of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighborhood. The uproar spread throughout the city, with Jewish-Arab clashes and rioting in Israel's mixed cities. In the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces fired and killed 11 Palestinians, there were also massive Palestinian demonstrations on Friday.
Hamas militants have launched hundreds of rockets into Israel since Monday night, while Israel has hammered the Gaza Strip with strikes. At least 139 people have been killed in Gaza, including 39 children and 22 women; eight people have been killed in Israel, including a man killed by a rocket that hit in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, on Saturday.
Importance of the building
The 12- story building housing AP's bureau and Al Jazeera offices was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Saturday.
The Associated Press' top-floor office and roof terrace have been a significant place for covering Israeli bombings and Palestinian militants' rocket attacks during occasional flare-ups in combat. Israel's disputes with Gaza militants, Hamas rulers for the past 15 years, including wars in 2009 and 2014, have been captured by the cameras. As rebels fired rockets at Israel and Israeli airstrikes pounded the city and its environs this week, the news agency's camera provided 24-hour live coverage.
"The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what transpired today," Gary Pruitt, said in a statement following the Israeli attack.
Reason for the Strike
The building was attacked by the Israeli Government and military because it housed assets of Hamas, the Palestinian militant organization that rules the Gaza Strip, intelligence agencies. Israel's claim is that they were allegedly using media offices as "human shields." The AP questioned the assertion because it did not include details of the intelligence operations in the house.
Mr. Pruitt demanded that the Israel defense force provide evidence to back up its claim, noting that the news agency had been based in the building for 15 years.
"We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building," he said. "This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk."
Netanyahu promises to share intelligence
On Sunday, Conricus, the Israeli military spokesman said, "We’re in the middle of the fighting. That’s in process and I’m sure in due time that information will be presented.”
Israeli Military would share any proof of Hamas's involvement in the targeted building through intelligence channels, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House and the State Department, however, refused to reveal whether any American officials had seen it.
Israel said on Sunday that Hamas had an office in the building that gathered intelligence for attacks against Israel and that it had alerted civilians in the building about the strike and given them enough time to evacuate safely.
The IDF, which often accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields, gave civilians in the building advance notice to allow for evacuation. According to the Associated Press, the building's owner, Jawad Mahdi, was given an hour to ensure that everybody had left the building.
Mr. Mahdi was filmed urgently pleading with the Israeli Army minutes before the airstrike, requesting that four journalists filming an interview with the father of four children killed in an Israeli attack on a refugee camp on Saturday morning be given an additional 10 minutes to retrieve their belongings.
“There will be no 10 minutes,” an Israeli soldier told him.
The building was demolished minutes later, engulfed in a plume of black smoke.
According to the Associated Press, the Israeli strike "narrowly prevented a tragic loss of life," and a dozen journalists and freelancers inside the building were evacuated prior to the strike. The lower floors of the building also contained apartments.
Who controls the media messages on the Israel-Palestine Conflict?
With the bombardment of this important media building, questions have arisen about whether Israel is trying to control the media message across the globe. In today’s world with the influence of social media, is it possible for one country or one media house to sway the message in order to fit their narrative?
Diction, or word choice, affects the interpretation of the same set of entities or events. The news about Israel and Palestine plays out very differently in the western media as compared to Middle Eastern media, because of the choice of words used to describe an incident. Moreover, media might rely on selective reporting and omission to psychologically make you believe a certain thing. This is not just limited to Israel and Palestine but happens with almost any controversial topic.
"Palestinian rocket fire, Israeli strikes in Gaza enter the second day," according to Reuters, indicates that the Israeli strikes were "in reaction" to "Palestinian" rocket fires raining down on Israel. The title of a video from Reuters' Facebook page indicates that Palestinians clashed with Israeli police near Sheikh Jarrah and the Al-Aqsa mosque town, only to be subdued with hot-water cannons.
The New York Times' social media captions of "Gaza militants" shooting rockets and Israeli retaliation obscure the Palestinian struggle behind Hamas' deep veil of terror.
In comparison to this, the Middle Eastern media house, Al Jazeera uses headlines such as “Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu’s war on Palestine” and Middle East Eye says, “Far-right Israeli groups plan further violence against Palestinians after a night of lynchings”
Are you confused about the Israel -Palestine “conflict” and want to understand what is happening there? It is becoming exceedingly important to understand the issue in order to form a well-informed opinion. We must also keep in mind the role the bias in media plays in doing so. It is essential that we frame our opinions after understanding the history of the region, facts, connotations, and context of the current situation.