An hour before the air raid, Israel advised residents of the building, which also housed residential apartments and the Associated Press bureau, to evacuate.
In the Gaza Strip, an Israeli air raid destroyed a building that housed international media offices, including Al Jazeera.
It was unclear whether there were any casualties in Saturday’s attack. The 11-story al-Jalaa building, which also houses several residences and other offices, crashed to the ground after being bombed, with dust and debris flying into the air, according to live Al Jazeera video.
The Associated Press news agency bureau was also housed in the building.
Al Jazeera issued a statement condemning the attack and urging “all media and human rights institutions to join forces” in condemning the bombing and holding Israel’s government “accountable.”
“Al Jazeera strongly condemns the bombing and destruction of its offices in Gaza by the Israeli military and sees this as a clear act to prevent journalists from carrying out their sacred duty to inform the world and report events on the ground,” the statement said.
“Al Jazeera promises to pursue any and all avenues available to hold the Israeli government accountable for its actions.”
Meanwhile, the Associated Press said on Saturday that the Israeli air strike had left it “shocked and horrified.”
“This is a deeply troubling development. We narrowly avoided a tragic loss of life,” said AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt in a statement.
“As a result of what happened today, the world will know less about what is going on in Gaza,” Pruitt said.
Israel claimed that its “fighter jets attacked a high-rise building that housed military assets belonging to the Hamas terror organization’s military intelligence.”
AP VIDEO: Associated Press staff evacuated their office in Gaza City shortly before the building was destroyed in an Israel airstrike. https://t.co/Ib5T2SohXq
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 15, 2021
“The building also housed civilian media outlets’ offices, which the Hamas terror group hides behind and uses as human shields,” it said. However, there was no evidence to back up the claims.
According to Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout, reporting from Gaza City, a resident of the building received a call from the Israeli army about an hour before the attack warning of the impending attack.
Al-Kahlout, who was present at the time, stated that he and his colleagues “began to collect as much as they could, from the personal and office equipment, especially the cameras.”
Then, al-Kahlout, who claimed to have worked at the building for 11 years and frequently reported live from its roof, witnessed at least three missiles strike the structure and its subsequent collapse.
“I’ve covered a lot of events from this building,” he explained. “We have a lot of fond memories with our coworkers.” Hundreds of structures have been destroyed by Israeli attacks in the Palestinian enclave, sometimes after a warning phone call or missile “tap.”