Saturday, December 4News That Matters

Gaza tower housing Al Jazeera office destroyed by Israeli attack

Israel warned residents of the building, which also housed residential apartments and the AP bureau, to evacuate an hour before air raid.

A building that housed international media offices including Al Jazeera’s in the Gaza Strip has been hit by an Israeli air raid that demolished the structure.

It was not immediately clear if there were casualties in Saturday’s attack. Live Al Jazeera video showed the 11-storey Al-Jalaa building, which also houses a number of residences and other offices, crashing to the ground after being bombed as dust and debris flew into the air.

The building also housed The Associated Press news agency bureau.

Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout, reporting from Gaza City, said a resident of the building received a call from the Israeli army warning of the impending attack about an hour before it was hit.

Smoke rises after a building housing residential buildings, as well as Al Jazeera and The Associated Press offices, collapsed following Israeli air raids [Screen grab/ Al Jazeera]

Al-Kahlout, who was in the building at the time, said he and colleagues “started to collect as much as they could, from the personal and equipment of the office, especially the cameras”.

After watching at least three missiles hitting the building, and its subsequent collapse, al-Kahlout said he had worked at the building for 11 years, and often did live reporting from its roof.

“I have been covering lots of events from this building,” he said. “We have lots of good memories with our colleagues.”

It was not immediately made clear why the building was targeted by Israel, but comes as scores of structures have been demolished, sometimes after a warning phone call or missile “tap”, by Israeli attacks in the Palestinian enclave.

“Now, one can understand the feeling of the people whose homes have been destroyed by such kind of air attacks,” al-Kahlout said. “It’s really difficult to wake up one day and then you realise that your office is not there with all the career experiences, memories that you’ve had.”

In Gaza, at least 140 people have been killed, including 39 children and 22 women, since the Israeli bombardment began on Monday.

In Israel, at least nine people have been killed in rocket attacks from armed groups in Gaza.

Early on Saturday, an air attack hit a three-storey house in Gaza City’s Shati refugee camp, killing eight children and two women from an extended family.