Israel air strike destroys building housing Al-Jazeera and AP offices
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Israel's army destroyed in an air strike Saturday the 13-floor building housing Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television and American news agency The Associated Press in the Gaza Strip.
Israel "destroyed Jala Tower in the Gaza Strip, which contains the Al-Jazeera office 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.
The building, which was partly residential, was razed to the ground.
Israeli warplanes have continued dropping dozens of missiles and artillery fire onto the Gaza Strip, targeting civilians and their property, large residential towers, government buildings, roads, public facilities, agricultural lands, health clinics, schools and a mosque.
In densely populated Gaza there are few places to shelter from Israeli bomb attacks, so people are keeping their windows open in case their homes are bombed and the glass shatters.
The death toll in Gaza grows by the hour, and children are among the scores of people killed by Israeli bombardment.
Israel has boasted of how ferocious their attacks on Gaza will be, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying earlier in the week, “We will hit them with strikes they have never dreamed of.” Netanyahu went on to announce the assassination of senior Hamas commanders as if it was routine, after Israel assassinated 10 Hamas leaders.
In a recorded address to Palestinians in Gaza, Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz has threatened more destruction than he ordered in Gaza seven years ago, and Netanyahu has been amassing Israeli troops on the border with Gaza.
Israel has been blunt in its intentions vowing that “Gaza will burn.”
Tensions had boiled over earlier in the week when Palestinians resisted Israel’s efforts to expel dozens of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood as part of the ongoing efforts by Israeli settlers and authorities to evict Palestinian residents from occupied East Jerusalem, in alleged efforts to change the city’s demography.
Israeli forces had launched a massive provocation by assaulting worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque compound at the end of the holy month of Ramadaan.
Israeli occupation forces launched an assault on the compound, firing volleys of stun grenades, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians there, injuring hundreds of worshippers, journalists and medics.
The military wing of the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas issued an ultimatum giving Israel an hour – until 6 pm local time – to withdraw its forces from al-Aqsa and the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and free detainees.
When the deadline passed, resistance groups in Gaza fired volleys of rockets towards Jerusalem for the first time since the 2014 war.
A Hamas spokesperson in Gaza said that resistance fighters “fired rockets at occupied Jerusalem, in response to the enemy’s crimes and aggression against the holy city, and its abuse of our people in Sheikh Jarrah and al-Aqsa mosque.”
South Africa has been quick to condemn the violence, and the ruling African National Congress has condemned the determination of Israeli regime to evict Palestinians from their homes.
“This development must not be seen in isolation. It is part of a well co-ordinated and elaborate agenda by apartheid Israel to entrench its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and to render the people of Palestine landless in their own land. We urge the international community to rise to the occasion and stop apartheid Israeal from expanding its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and property, and ensure that Israel is held accountable for perpetrating crimes against humanity.”
The South African government has said it “strongly condemns the attacks and planned evictions of Palestinians from annexed East Jerusalem to make way for settlements. Israel’s actions are in stark violation of international law, and in disregard of international humanitarian law and numerous UNSC resolutions.” - Additional reporting by AFP