Israeli warplanes bombed a section of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least nine people and destroying a building housing the offices of international media outlets.
A sixth consecutive day of air assaults in the region that has turned into a full-blown war between Israel and Hamas.
The White House responded to the news of the bombing by saying, “We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.”
The strike came nearly an hour after Israeli military officials ordered people to evacuate the building, but there was no explanation why it was attacked. “This channel will not be silenced. Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,” an on-air news anchor from Al-Jazeera English said. “We can guarantee you that right now.”
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt released a statement on the incident:
“We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza. They have long known the location of our bureau and knew journalists were there. We received a warning that the building would be hit.
“We are seeking information from the Israeli government and are engaged with the U.S. State Department to try to learn more.”
The tensions between Israel and the militant group began in East Jerusalem two weeks ago. It started 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, according to local reports.
Hamas fired over 2,000 rockets toward Jerusalem on Monday, escalating the conflict between the two sides further. Most were intercepted by anti-missile defense systems, despite bringing civilian life in the region to a halt.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas will “pay a very heavy price” for the attack and promised retaliation. President Biden had acknowledged Israel’s right to defend themselves, but hopes the violence will be under control in the near future.