Journalists have watched on as their office building was levelled by air strikes along the Gaza Strip with Israel continuing its escalating fight with Hamas.
Israeli forces launched more air strikes along the Gaza Strip on Saturday (local time) including at the al-Jalaa building, which houses The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other TV networks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged Hamas, a militant group, had been operating out of the building. Hamas has launched missiles at Israel over the past week.
Journalists were given an hour to evacuate the building before it was destroyed.
There have been no reports of any reporters or production staff being injured, and The Associated Press said all of its staffers and occupants were safe.
Al-Jazeera was broadcasting live as the 12-storey structure was demolished.
“Whenever you see journalists doing live updates from Gaza they’re usually standing on the roof of that building which has now been flattened in an airstrike by the Israeli military,” a presenter said watching on.
“So that is a landmark, an institution that has now been razed to the ground in Gaza.”
Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout said he had been working out of the building for 11 years.
“I have been covering many events from this building... now everything, in two seconds, just vanished,” he said.
On Twitter, the attack was widely condemned.
“This is not ‘fighting’ it’s a massacre,” one woman tweeted.
Another woman called it an “open and obvious attack on the press”.
“Heartbreaking to see this attack on journalism,” another woman tweeted.
“Giving a warning does not justify their action! This is a crime,” one man tweeted.
Israel vows to continue campaign
Mr Netanyahu told reporters on Saturday "the campaign will continue as long as it is required".
"The party that bears the guilt for this confrontation is not us, it's those attacking us," Mr Netanyahu said.
"We are still in the midst of this operation, it is still not over and this operation will continue as long as necessary."
Israel routinely cites a Hamas presence as a reason for targeting certain locations in air strikes, including residential buildings.
The military also has accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields, but provided no evidence to back up the claims.
The Associated Press has operated from the building for 15 years, including through three previous wars between Israel and Hamas, without being targeted directly.
During those conflicts as well as the current one, the news agency’s cameras from its top floor office and roof terrace offered 24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel, and Israeli air strikes hammered the city and its surroundings.
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement said the agency was “shocked and horrified” the Israeli military would target the building.
“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” Mr Pruitt said.
“This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life.”
Mr Pruitt added AP was seeking information from the Israeli government and was engaged with the US State Department to learn more.
Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of Al-Jazeera Media Network, called the strike a "war crime" aiming to "silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza".
US President Joe Biden expressed his "strong support" for Israel’s campaign but raised concern about civilian casualties and protection of journalists, the White House said.
At least 148 have been killed in Gaza since the violence began on Monday, including 41 children, health officials said. Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children.
with The Associated Press and Reuters
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