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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Highlights: World will know less about what’s happening in Gaza, says AP after Israeli attack

Israel-Gaza Attack Highlights: The airstrike Saturday came roughly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building. There was no immediate explanation for why the building was targeted

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: May 19, 2021 1:49:14 pm
A building housing various international media, including The Associated Press, collapses after an Israeli airstrike on Saturday in Gaza City(File)

An Israeli airstrike has destroyed a high-rise building that housed The Associated Press offices in the Gaza Strip. The airstrike Saturday came roughly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building. There was no immediate explanation for why the building was targeted. The building houses The Associated Press, Al Jazeera and a number of offices and apartments.

The development comes hours after an Israeli air strike in Gaza city on Saturday killed at least 10 Palestinians, a majority of whom were children, AP reported.

Responding to the development, AP said in a statement: “This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life. A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building and thankfully we were able to evacuate them in time.”

As the conflict between Israel and the Hamas continues to escalate, Palestine witnessed some of its most widespread protests in years. Hundreds of young demonstrators clashed with Israeli troops, leading to the death of at least 11 people so far, AP reported.

Since Monday night, Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, which has pounded the Gaza Strip with strikes. In Gaza, at least 139 people have been killed, including 39 children and 22 women; in Israel, eight people have been killed, including the death Saturday of a man killed by a rocket that hit in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has called for foreign ministers of the world’s largest body of Muslim nations to hold a meeting Sunday. The gathering is to discuss Israeli acts of violence against Palestinians and the Israeli police’s use of force against protesters at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

The kingdom will host the virtual summit, gathering ministers of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation “to discuss the Israeli aggression in the Palestinian territory,” particularly acts of violence in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the body said Saturday.

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22:28 (IST)15 May 2021
Turkey condemns attack on Gaza media building

The communications director to Turkey's president tweeted that Israel's targeting of The Associated Press and Al Jazeera offices in the Gaza Strip were a blow on the freedom of press. The airstrike on Saturday targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets.

Fahrettin Altun said after the attack: "I curse these lowly attacks by Israel hitting press centers to cover up its massacres." He also claimed that "Israel is continuing its massacres and war crimes." 

22:27 (IST)15 May 2021
Israeli military says it bombed home of a top Hamas leader

The Israeli military said on Saturday that it bombed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a top leader of Gaza's ruling militant Hamas group.

The military alleged that the home served as part of what it said was the militant group's "terrorist infrastructure."

Al-Hayeh is a senior figure in the Hamas political leadership in Gaza. His fate after the strike was not immediately known. Earlier on Saturday, an Israeli airstrike targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets. (AP)

21:59 (IST)15 May 2021
White House to Israel: Ensure reporters' safety

The White House says Israel has a "paramount responsibility" to ensure the safety of journalists covering the spiraling conflict. White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Saturday that the U.S. has "communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility."

President Joe Biden has urged a de-escalation, but has publicly backed Israel's right to self-defense from Hamas rockets fired from Gaza. The White House statement followed an Israeli airstrike that targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets. AP's president and CEO Gary Pruitt said the agency was "shocked and horrified" at the strike. 

20:11 (IST)15 May 2021
Tensions rise as Palestinian march aims to defy Paris ban

Marches in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being held Saturday in a dozen French cities, but the focus was on Paris, where riot police got ready as organisers said they would defy a ban on the protest.

Paris police chief Didier Lallement ordered shops closed around the starting point of the planned march in a working-class neighbourhood in northern Paris after an administrative court confirmed the ban. Authorities noted a banned July 2014 pro-Palestinian protest against an Israeli offensive in Gaza that degenerated into violence and running battles with police to justify the order against Saturday's march.

Organisers said they intend to "denounce the latest Israeli aggressions" and mark the fleeing of Palestinians after Israel declared independence in 1948. (AP)

20:06 (IST)15 May 2021
AP statement on Israeli attack on building housing AP office

An Israeli airstrike destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets on Saturday. All AP employees and freelancers evacuated the building safely.

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt has released the following statement: "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 US State Department to try to learn more. This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life. A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building and thankfully we were able to evacuate them in time. The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today." (AP)

20:03 (IST)15 May 2021
Hezbollah fighter killed at Israel border buried

Hundreds of people have participated in the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter who was shot dead along the Lebanon-Israel border during a rally denouncing Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

The funeral of Mohammed Tahhan was held in his hometown of Adloun in southern Lebanon on Saturday afternoon. The 21-year-old man died of wounds sustained on Friday, shortly after he was struck during the protest at the border. (AP)

19:38 (IST)15 May 2021
UN rights chief urges lowering Gaza tensions

The United Nations' human rights chief is urging all in what has developed into a battle between Israel and Gaza's militant Hamas rulers to lower tensions, and faulted actions by both sides.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement issued in Geneva on Saturday that "rather than seeking to calm tensions, inflammatory rhetoric from leaders on all sides appears to be seeking to excite tensions rather than to calm them."

Bachelet's statement was issued on Saturday, shortly before an Israeli airstrike destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets.

In the statement, Bachelet "warned that the firing of large numbers of indiscriminate rockets by Palestinian armed groups into Israel, including densely populated areas, in clear violation of international humanitarian law, amounts to war crimes." (AP)

18:20 (IST)15 May 2021
People inside the building were given one hour's notice to evacuate, says DW quoting reports
18:07 (IST)15 May 2021
Video: Israeli airstrike destroys Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza, which housed AP, Al Jazeera offices
18:02 (IST)15 May 2021
Watch video: Israeli airstrike takes down Al Jazeera office in Gaza city
17:59 (IST)15 May 2021
Israeli airstrike in Gaza destroys building with AP bureau

An Israeli airstrike has destroyed a highrise building that housed The Associated Press offices in the Gaza Strip. The airstrike Saturday came roughly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building. There was no immediate explanation for why the building was targeted. The building houses The Associated Press, AlJazeera and a number of offices and apartments. (AP)

17:58 (IST)15 May 2021
Israeli airstrike hits target near high-rise building housing AP office in Gaza City
17:52 (IST)15 May 2021
Al Jazeera says that Israel has given 'warning' that it will bomb the news channel's offices in Gaza in 1 hour
16:43 (IST)15 May 2021
Saudis to host meeting of Muslim nations' FMs

Saudi Arabia has called for foreign ministers of the world's largest body of Muslim nations to hold a meeting Sunday. The gathering is to discuss Israeli acts of violence against Palestinians and the Israeli police's use of force against protesters at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

The kingdom will host the virtual summit, gathering ministers of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation "to discuss the Israeli aggression in the Palestinian territory," particularly acts of violence in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the body said Saturday. The Saudi-headquartered OIC includes countries Iran, Turkey, Indonesia and a range of Muslim majority nations. (AP)

16:30 (IST)15 May 2021
Iran minister cancels Vienna visit in flag spat

Iran's foreign minister has called off a planned visit to his Austrian counterpart in Vienna. The decision came after Austria's chancellery and foreign ministry flew the Israeli flag as a signal of solidarity in Israel's conflict with the militant Hamas group.

Austrian daily Die Presse reported Saturday that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was due to meet Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg on Saturday morning. But he called off the trip over the Austrian leaders decision to fly the Israeli flag on Friday. (AP)

14:15 (IST)15 May 2021
Israeli airstrike on Gaza home kills 10, mostly children

An Israeli air raid in Gaza City killed at least 10 Palestinians, mostly children, early Saturday in the deadliest single strike since the battle with Gaza's militant Hamas rulers erupted earlier this week. Both sides pressed for an advantage as cease-fire efforts gathered strength.

The latest outburst of violence began in Jerusalem and has spread across the region, with Jewish-Arab clashes and rioting in mixed cities of Israel. There were also widespread Palestinian protests Friday in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces shot and killed 11 people. (AP)

10:52 (IST)15 May 2021
Deaths rise as Palestinians flee heavy Israeli fire in Gaza

Thousands of Palestinians grabbed children and belongings and fled their homes Friday as Israel barraged the northern Gaza Strip with tank fire and airstrikes, killing a family of six in their house and heavily damaging other neighbourhoods in what it said was an operation to clear militant tunnels.

As international efforts at a cease-fire stepped up, Israel appeared to be looking to inflict intensified damage on the Islamic militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel.

The Gaza violence increasingly spilled over into turmoil elsewhere. Across the West Bank, Palestinians held their most widespread protests since 2017, with hundreds in at least nine towns burning tires and throwing stones at Israeli troops. Soldiers opening fire killed six, according to Palestinian health officials, while a seventh Palestinian was killed as he tried to stab an Israeli soldier. (AP)

10:50 (IST)15 May 2021
Israeli military accused of using media to trick Hamas

Early Friday, just after midnight, the Israeli military put out an ominous statement to the media: “IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.”

The terse statement set off frenzied speculation that Israel had launched a ground invasion of Gaza — a much-feared scenario that would mark a bloody escalation of this week’s operation against Hamas militants. Some reporters were even told outright the incursion had begun.

Hours later, the military issued a “clarification.” There were no troops inside Gaza. But by then, several major news outlets had erroneously reported the ground offensive was under way.

While the army attempted to play down the incident as a misunderstanding, well-placed Israeli military commentators said the media had been used as part of an elaborate ruse to lure Hamas militants into a deadly trap that may have killed dozens of fighters.

“They didn’t lie,” said Or Heller, a veteran military correspondent on Israel’s Channel 13 TV. “It was a manipulation. It was smart and it was successful.” (AP)

09:41 (IST)15 May 2021
West Bank erupts in protest amid more Israel-Hamas fighting

Turmoil from the battle between Israel and Hamas spilled over into the West Bank, sparking the most widespread Palestinian protests in years as hundreds of young demonstrators in multiple towns clashed with Israeli troops, who shot and killed at least 11 people.

Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip continued into early Saturday, when an airstrike on a house in Gaza City killed at least seven Palestinians --  the highest number of fatalities in a single hit. That strike came a day after a furious overnight barrage of tank fire and airstrikes that wreaked destruction in some towns, killed a family of six in their house and sent thousands fleeing their homes.

The Israeli military said the operation involved 160 warplanes dropping some 80 tons of explosives over the course of 40 minutes and succeeded in destroying a network of tunnels used by Hamas to elude airstrikes and surveillance. (AP)

09:12 (IST)15 May 2021
Morocco to send 40 tonnes of aid to Palestinians

Morocco's King Mohammed VI on Friday ordered 40 tonnes of aid for Palestinians to be shipped to the West Bank and Gaza following recent violence.

The aid includes food, medicine and blankets and will be carried by military aircrafts, the foreign ministry said in a statement.Morocco also denounced "the violent acts perpetrated in occupied Palestinian territories," and reiterated support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Morocco resumed ties with Israel in December as part of a deal brokered by the United States that also includes Washington’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. (Reuters)

Israel threatens Gaza ground invasion. Follow LIVE updates.
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