World shocked as media HQ wiped out live on air
A shocking video has showed the owner of a building housing media outlets and private homes begging with an Israeli officer on live TV to let journalists collect their gear before it is bombed.
Jawad Mehdi, the owner of the Jala Tower, pleads for "whoever's in charge" to give four people, who would we wearing press vests, 10 minutes to go inside and collect gear for Qatar-based Al Jazeera television and American news agency The Associated Press.
"They're not going to get weapons. They're going to get their cameras and their work gear," he said.
"These guys were in the middle of a live broadcast. They spent the day going to film at the hospital after the bombing killed those 10 people in this morning ... There's no one here who wants any trouble. We just want 10 minutes, ask your supervisor, nothing's going to happen."
But the Israeli officer refused, telling the owner that no one is allowed back in to the building, adding that they had already been given an hour's notice to evacuate.
"Listen we're not crying about the building, that's fine," Mr Mehdi responds. "You can do whatever you want, our life's work is all gone, our memories, our lives are wasted."
Moments later, hundreds of journalists watched their office be reduced to rubble after the Israeli army launched an air strike against it, demolishing the 13-floor building in the Gaza Strip.
Al Jazeera broadcast footage showing the building collapsing to the ground after the Israeli air strike, sending up a huge mushroom cloud of dust and debris.
WATCH: The owner of al-Jalaa tower pleads with an Israeli officer on live TV to let journalists collect their gear before he bombs it.— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) May 15, 2021
Moments later, Israeli air strikes demolish the #Gaza building that housed several international media offices used by AlJazeera and MEE pic.twitter.com/a5PRzQNOkC
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was "dismayed" by civilian casualties in Gaza and "deeply disturbed" by Israel's strike on a building containing international media outlets, a spokesman said in a statement released Saturday.
Mr Guterres spoke as Israel pummeled the Gaza Strip with air strikes, killing 10 members of an extended family and demolishing the 13-floor Gaza building housing Qatar-based Al Jazeera and the Associated Press news agency, with Palestinian militants firing back barrages of rockets.
"The Secretary-General is dismayed by the increasing number of civilian casualties, including the death of ten members of the same family, including children, as a result of an Israeli airstrike last night in the al-Shati camp in Gaza, purportedly aimed at a Hamas leader," his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in the statement.
Oh my god. The building where al Jazeera’s office is housed has just been taken down by Israeli airstrikes. There was a warning and evacuated. It houses offices and private homes. I can’t believe it. pic.twitter.com/Q4luRYk9H9— Stefanie Dekker (@StefanieDekker) May 15, 2021
Mr Guterres was "also deeply disturbed by the destruction by an Israeli airstrike today of a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed the offices of several international media organisations as well as residential apartments," Dujarric continued.
"The Secretary-General reminds all sides that any indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures violates international law and must be avoided at all costs," he said.
Israel "destroyed Jala Tower in the Gaza Strip, which contains the Al Jazeera and other international press offices," Al Jazeera said in a tweet, with an AP journalist saying the army had warned the tower's owner ahead of the strike.
Wael al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Gaza told AFP: "It's terrible, very sad, to target the Al Jazeera and other press bureaux".
Israel alleged its "fighter jets attacked a high-rise building which hosted military assets belonging to the military intelligence of the Hamas terror organisation".
"The building also hosted offices of civilian media outlets, which the Hamas terror group hides behind and uses as human shields," it said.
Israeli air and artillery strikes on Gaza since Monday have killed 139 people including 39 children, and wounded 1000 more, health officials in the coastal enclave say.
Israeli air and artillery strikes on Gaza since Monday have killed 145 people including 41 children, and wounded another 1100, health officials say, the worst violence in the region since 2014.
Palestinian armed groups have fired at least 2300 rockets at Israel, killing 10 people, including a child and a soldier, and wounding over 560 Israelis. Israeli air defences have intercepted many rockets.
US Secretary for Israel-Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr was to hold talks Sunday with Israeli leaders before meeting Palestinian officials to seek a "sustainable calm," the State Department said.
The UN Security Council was to meet Sunday to discuss the violence.
- With Wires
Originally published as Israel bombs Al Jazeera, Associated Press