, Gaza Strip
(AP) — An Israeli airstrike on Friday destroyed a high-rise building in GAZA CITY that housed the offices of The Associated Press
and other media
outlets, the military's latest effort to silence reporting from the territory as it fights the militant group Hamas
The strike occurred nearly an hour after the military ordered people
to evacuate the building, which also housed Al-Jazeera, other offices, and residential apartments. The strike brought down the entire 12-story structure, collapsing with a massive cloud of dust. There was no immediate explanation for why it was attacked.
BREAKING — An Israeli strike destroys a building in Gaza that housed the Associated Press and Al Jazeera
news bureaus; the building was evacuated after the Israeli strike pic.twitter
.com/FfcO7rLtUB — Ragp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) May 15, 2021
The strike came just hours after another Israeli air raid
on a densely populated refugee camp in GAZA CITY killed at least ten Palestinians
from an extended family, mostly children
, in the deadliest single strike of the current conflict.
The latest escalation of violence began in Jerusalem
and has spread throughout the region, with Jewish-Arab clashes and rioting in mixed-race Israeli cities, as well as widespread Palestinian protests in the occupied West Bank on Friday, where Israeli forces shot and killed 11 Palestinians.
The escalating violence has fueled fears of a new Palestinian “intifada,” or uprising, at a time when there have been no peace talks in years. Palestinians marked Nakba (Catastrophe) Day on Saturday, commemorating the estimated 700,000 people who were expelled from or fled their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation.
U.S. diplomat Hady Amr arrived in Cairo on Friday as part of Washington's efforts to de-escalate the conflict, and the United Nations
Security Council was set to meet on Sunday. However, Israel rejected an Egyptian proposal for a one-year truce that Hamas rulers had accepted, an Egyptian official said on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations on Friday.
Pic.twitter.com/chhmU7ZIS8 — Ragp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) May 15, 2021
Since Monday night, Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, which has pounded the Gaza Strip with strikes, killing at least 139 people, including 39 children and 22 women; eight people have died in Israel, including a man killed Saturday by a rocket that hit Ramat Gan, a Tel Aviv suburb.
The strike on the building housing
media offices occurred in the afternoon, after the building's owner received a call from the Israeli military warning that it would be attacked. AP employees and others in the building were immediately evacuated.
were broadcast live as the building collapsed on Al-Jazeera, a news network funded by Qatar's government.
“This channel will not be silenced, and Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,” an on-air anchorwoman said, her voice full of emotion, “we can guarantee you that right now.”
An airstrike earlier Saturday struck a three-story house in GAZA CITY's Shati refugee camp, killing eight children and two women from an extended family.
Mohammed Hadidi told reporters that his wife and five children had gone to celebrate Eid al-Fitr with relatives; she and three of the children, aged 6 to 14, were killed, and an 11-year-old is still missing; only his 5-month-old son Omar is known to have survived.
Among the rubble were children's toys and a Monopoly board game, as well as plates of leftover holiday food
“There was no warning,” said Jamal Al-Naji, a neighbor in the same building. “You filmed people eating and then bombed them?” he asked, addressing Israel. “Why are you confronting us? Go confront the strong people!”
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Hamas claimed responsibility for the airstrike by launching a barrage of rockets at southern Israel.
A furious Israeli barrage early Friday killed a family of six in their home and drove thousands to UN-run shelters, according to the military, which said the operation involved 160 warplanes dropping 80 tons of explosives over the course of 40 minutes and succeeded in destroying a vast tunnel network used by Hamas.
A military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said the military aims to minimize collateral damage when striking military targets, but that measures used in other strikes, such as warning shots to get civilians to leave, were not “feasible this time.”
According to Israeli media, the military believes dozens of militants were killed inside the tunnels; Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant groups have confirmed 20 deaths, but the military believes the true number is much higher.
, which was already in disrepair due to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after Hamas took power in 2007, showed signs of further deterioration, exacerbating residents' misery, with the territory's sole power plant on the verge of running out of fuel in the coming days.
According to the United Nations, Gazans are already subjected to daily power outages lasting 8 to 12 hours, and at least 230,000 people have limited access to running water. The impoverished and densely populated territory is home to 2 million Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are descendants of refugees
from what is now Israel.
The conflict has reverberated widely, with mobs from each community fighting in the streets and destroying each other's property in Israeli cities with mixed Arab and Jewish populations.
Someone threw a firebomb at an Arab family's home in Tel Aviv's Ajami neighborhood late Friday, injuring two children, according to the Magen David Adom rescue service. A 12-year-old boy was in moderate condition with burns on his upper body
, and a 10-year-old girl was treated for a head injury.
Hundreds of Palestinians protested the Gaza campaign and Israeli actions in Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, waving Palestinian flags, trucking in tires that they set up in burning barricades and hurling stones at Israeli soldiers. At least ten protesters were shot and killed by soldiers, and an 11th Palestinian was killed when he was shot and killed by soldiers.
In east Jerusalem, online video showed young Jewish nationalists firing pistols and throwing stones at Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, which became a flashpoint for tensions over settlers' attempts to evict a number of Palestinian families from their homes.
On Israel's northern border
, troops opened fire after a group of Lebanese and Palestinian protesters on the other side cut through the border fence and briefly crossed. One Lebanese was killed. Three rockets were fired toward Israel from neighboring Syria, but no casualties or damage were reported.
Tensions flared earlier this month in east Jerusalem, with Palestinian protests against the Sheikh Jarrah evictions and Israeli police
measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque
, a frequent flashpoint located on a mount in the Old City revered by Muslims and Jews.
Late Monday, Hamas launched rockets at Jerusalem, ostensibly to portray itself as the protesters' champion.
As Israel has massed troops at the border, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
has vowed that Hamas will “pay a very heavy price” for its rocket attacks. US President Joe Biden
has expressed support for Israel while expressing hope that the violence can be brought under control.
According to the Israeli military, Hamas has fired 2,000 rockets toward Israel since Monday, most of which have been intercepted by anti-missile defenses, but they have brought life to a halt in southern Israeli cities, caused delays at airports, and triggered air raid sirens in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.