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White House warn Israel media must not be harmed organizations demand explanation for airstrike

News organizations demanded an explanation on Saturday for an Israeli airstrike that targeted and destroyed a Gaza City building housing the offices of The Associated Press, broadcaster Al-Jazeera and other media outlets.

Its destruction also sparked widespread protests across the United States. Model Bella Hadid was seen among those on the streets of Brooklyn.  

AP journalists and other tenants were safely evacuated from the 12-story al-Jalaa tower after the Israeli military warned of an imminent strike. Three heavy missiles hit the building within the hour, disrupting coverage of the ongoing conflict between' Gaza´s Hamas rulers and Israel. 

With Palestinian protests against Israel across the U.S., on Saturday, President Joe Biden spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the spiraling violence. 

Biden told Netanyahu that he continued to support Israel's right to defend itself but expressed concern over deaths on both sides.

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A ball of fire erupts from a building housing various international media, including The Associated Press, after an Israeli airstrike on Saturday

Bella Hadid joins with protestors Brooklyn to demonstrate in support of Palestinians in New York on Saturday

Supermodel Bella Hadid joined a crowd of protesters Saturday who took to the streets of Bay Ridge for a demonstration in support of Palestine

Hadid was wearing a traditional dress, a Keffiyeh, a face mask and waving a large Palestinian flag as she marched along with thousands of others

Hadid flashed a peace sign and waved as the crowd chanted

BOSTON: Thousands gather during a rally to support Palestine at Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts on May 15, 2021

DEARBORN, MICHIGAN: Protestors speak out against the Israeli army in Gaza as well as the forced removal of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem

WASHINGTON D.C.: Jewish demonstrators show their solidarity with Palestinians over the ongoing conflict with Israel

BROOKLYN: People gather in Brooklyn to demonstrate in support of Palestinians in New York City

BROOKLYN: Protests are taking place worldwide against Israel as a result of recently escalated actions towards the Palestinian people

LOS ANGELES: Demonstrators holding signs and the flag of Palestine march to the Israeli Consulate during a protest against Israel and in support of Palestinians during the current conflict in the Middle East, in the Westwood area of LA

LOS ANGELES: Demonstrators holding signs march to Israeli Consulate during a protest against Israel and in support of Palestinians in LA

LOS ANGELES: A demonstrator takes part in a protest outside the Federal Building against Israel and in support of Palestinians in California

'He raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection,' the White House said.

Biden also reaffirmed the United States 'strong support for Israel's right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas' in his call with Netanyahu. 

At least 145 people in Gaza and eight in Israel have been killed since the fighting erupted on Monday night.      

Back in the United States, thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied in cities across North America on Saturday, calling for an end to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip as the worst violence in years flared between the Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Groups gathered to show solidarity with Palestinians in cities including New York, Boston, Washington, Montreal and Dearborn, Michigan.

Sobbing selfie: Bella Hadid, 24, posts sobbing selfie and talks about 'deep sense of pain' she feels for Palestine as she continues to takes sides on the geopolitical conflict

About two thousand people turned out in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, chanting 'Free, free Palestine' and 'From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.'

They waved Palestinian flags and held placards that read 'End Israeli Apartheid' and 'Freedom for Gaza.'

Many protesters wore black and white, and red and white, keffiyeh scarves, while drivers sounded car horns and motorcyclists revved their engines as the sun beat down.

Among them in Bay Ridge was Hadid who joined in supporting Palestinians.

Hadid was spotted wearing a traditional dress, a Keffiyeh, a face mask and was waving a large Palestinian flag.

She marched alongside thousands as she flashed a peace sign and waved.  

Several Jewish people attended, carrying placards that said 'Not in my name' and 'Solidarity with Palestine' as the protesters took over a street in the area which has a large Arab population.

A few dozen police officers looked on at the peaceful protest, dubbed 'Defend Palestine.

Earlier in the day, Hadid shared a sobbing selfie saying she felt a 'deep sense of pain,' for Palestinians as she continued to take sides — despite many calling her previous social media posts 'mis-informed.' 

Just days ago the 24-year-old daughter of multi-millionaire Mohamed Hadid (a Palestinian real estate developer) was slammed for sharing a graphic that said Israel was not a country and accused of anti-semitism.  

Hadid posted a closeup of her face with tears streaming down her cheeks as she continued to speak. 

'I feel a deep sense of pain for Palestine and for my Palestinian brothers and sisters today and everyday. Watching these videos physically breaks my heart into 100 different pieces.

'You cannot allow yourself to be desensitized to watching human life being taken. You just can't. Palestinian lives are the lives that will help change the world. And they are being taken from us by the second. #FreePalestine' 

Days ago the Malibu-raised socialite found herself in hot water after she shared a graphic with anti-semitic rhetoric — the multi-slide post reading (among other things) that Israel was not a country and was a land settled by colonizers.  

Her post about the nation state — which was established in 1948 —was said to have inflamed the very fraught situation and contributed to rising anti-semitism on a global scale. Numbers-wise Bella boasts 41.7M Instagram followers — three times the number of Jews in the world.  

NEW YORK CITY: Activists supporting Palestine block traffic on Interstate 278 Saturday, in New York

HOUSTON, TEXAS: People participate in a demonstration at the Houston City Hall on May 15, 2021 in Houston, Texas

HOUSTON, TEXAS: A man leads a chant during a march to the Houston City Hall. The death toll in Gaza continues to rise as the region is seeing the worst outbreak of violence since the 2014 Gaza war

LOS ANGELES: People rally in support of Palestinians near the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles, California

LOS ANGELES: Los Angeles Sheriff deputies keep watch as people rally in support of Palestinians near the Consulate General of Israel in LA. Tensions have escalated between Israelis and Palestinians, leading to the heaviest offensive in years

LOS ANGELES: People demonstrate in support of Palestine during the Los Angeles Nakba 73: Resistance Until Liberation rally and protest outside the Consulate of Israel in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES: A demonstrator performs a backflip outside the Consulate of Israel in LA

HOUSTON, TEXAS: Ahmad El-rifai, 5, participates in prayer at the Houston City Hall on in Houston, Texas. People gathered during a rally to show support for Palestinians facing Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip

'I'm here because I want a Palestinian life to equal an Israeli life and today it doesn't,' said 35-year-old Emraan Khan, a corporate strategist from Manhattan, as he waved a Palestinian flag.

'When you have a nuclear-armed state and another state of villagers with rocks it is clear who is to blame,' he added.

Alison Zambrano, a 20-year-old student, travelled from neighboring Connecticut for the demo.

'Palestinians have the right to live freely and children in Gaza should not be being killed,' she told AFP.

Mashhour Ahmad, a 73-year-old Palestinian who has lived in New York for 50 years, said 'don't blame the victim for the aggression.'

'I'm telling Mr. Biden and his cabinet to stop supporting the killing. Support the victims, stop the oppression.

'The violence committed by the Israeli army recently is genocide,' he added, raising a poster above his head that said 'Free Palestine, End the occupation.'

BROOKLYN: People wave flags during a demonstration in support of Palestine in Brooklyn, New York

LOS ANGELES: People rally in support of Palestinians near the Consulate General of Israel in LA

HOUSTON, TEXAS: People gathered during a rally to show support for Palestinians facing Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip

HOUSTON, TEXAS: A woman leads a chant during a march to the Houston City Hall. People gathered during a rally to show support for Palestinians facing Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip

NEW YORK: An activist supporting Palestine runs with a pro-Palestine sign during a rally on Saturday, May 15, 2021, in New York. The rally supports Palestine in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine on the day Israeli airstrikes leveled several buildings in the Gaza strip

BROOKLYN: Activists supporting Palestine block traffic on Interstate 278 Saturday in New York

People block the Gowanus Expressway during a Nakba Day Defend Palestine protest in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

The Gowanus Expressway was blocked because of the protests on Saturday night 

Palestinian protestors folded arms in what was a peaceful protest

The Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, has a large Arabic-speaking community

Some protesters walked onto Interstate 278 shutting down traffic in at least in one direction

The marches coincided with Nakba Day, which commemorates the 1948 displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians amid Israel's declaration of independence

Some religions Jews also appeared to show support for the Palestinian community

Thousands rally in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to stand with Palestinians calling for the end of what they see as an illegal occupation by Israel 

President Joe Biden spoke separately Saturday with his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, expressing his 'grave concern' over six days of violence that has left scores dead or wounded.

He expressed Washington's 'strong commitment to a negotiated two-state solution as the best path to reach a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,' the White House said.

The protests were held on the anniversary of Nakba Day, or 'catastrophe,' that saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced during Israel's creation in 1947-1948.

Throngs of people gathered in Copley Square in Boston, while a few hundred rallied on the Washington Monument grounds in the US capital.

Several thousand demonstrated in Montreal, calling for 'the liberation of Palestine.'

Protesters also denounced 'war crimes' committed by Israel in Gaza and carried placards accusing Israel of violating international law during the protest in the center of the Canadian city.

Earlier, a caravan of cars sounded their horns and drove with Palestinian flags blowing in the wind as they protested outside the Israeli consulate in the western part of Montreal.

A protester was arrested for breaking a window, a police spokesperson said, but otherwise the demonstration was peaceful.

A view of a 11-story building housing AP office and other media in Gaza City is seen as Israeli warplanes demolished it

Gaza: The bomb seen hurtling towards the building. Jawad Mehdi, the owner of the Jala Tower, said an Israeli intelligence officer warned him he had just one hour to ensure the evacuation of the building

The attack came roughly an hour after the Israeli military warned people to evacuate the building, which also housed Al-Jazeera and a number of offices and apartments

A view of a 11-story building housing AP office and other media in Gaza City is seen moments after an Israeli airstrike

The building housed The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and a number of offices and apartments

Back in Gaza, as news organizations attempted to process the fast pace of events, the president of the Associated Press spoke out after the newsgatherer's bureau in Gaza City was blown to bits. 

'The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,' AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said. He said the American news agency was seeking information from the Israeli government and engaging with the U.S. State Department to learn more.

In a phone call with Pruitt, Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered 'unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world,' noting the 'indispensability' of reporting in conflict zones, according to State Department spokesman Ned Price. 

The Secretary offered his unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world and noted the indispensability of their reporting in conflict zones. He expressed relief that the Associated Press team on the ground in Gaza remains safe. 

Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of Al Jazeera Media Network, called the strike a 'war crime' and a 'clear act' to stop journalists from reporting on the conflict. Kuwait state television also had office space in the now-collapsed Gaza City building.

'The targeting of news organizations is completely unacceptable, even during an armed conflict. It represents a gross violation of human rights and internationally agreed norms,' Barbara Trionfi, the executive director of the International Press Institute, said.

In a standard Israeli response, the military said that Hamas was operating inside the building, and it accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields. But it provided no evidence to back up the claims.

Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus claimed that Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office and weapons development. He said 'a highly advanced technological tool' that the militant group used in the fighting was 'within or on the building.'

A Palestinian man looks for belongings to salvage in a damaged building following Israeli air strikes in Gaza

Some 10,000 Palestinians in Gaza have sought refuge in UN-run schools and other public buildings after fleeing homes near the Israeli border for fear of a ground assault

Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli forces across the West Bank

Israeli soldiers take aim during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the city center of Hebron in the occupied West Bank

Israel's Iron Dome air defense system intercepts rockets fired from the Gaza Strip toward the coastal city of Tel Aviv on Saturday night

But Conricus said he could not provide evidence to back up the claims without 'compromising' intelligence efforts. He added, however: 'I think it´s a legitimate request to see more information, and I will try to provide it.'

Some press freedom advocates said the strike raised suspicions that Israel was trying to hinder coverage of the conflict. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists demanded Israel 'provide a detailed and documented justification' for the strike.

'This latest attack on a building long known by Israel to house international media raises the specter that the Israel Defense Forces is deliberately targeting media facilities in order to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza,' the group´s executive director, Joel Simon, said in a statement.

The strike on a building known to have the offices of international media outlets came as a shock to reporters who had felt relatively protected there.

'Now, one can understand the feeling of the people whose homes have been destroyed by such kind of air attacks,' Al-Jazeera producer Safwat al-Kahlout, who was at the bureau in Gaza when the evacuation warning came, told the broadcaster Saturday. 'It's really difficult to wake up one day and then you realize that your office is not there with all the career experiences, memories that you've had.'

Palestinians attend the funeral of two women and eight children of the Abu Hatab family in Gaza City, who were killed after an Israeli air strike on Saturday,

Palestinians look at destruction caused by Israeli air strikes that killed ten members of Abu Hatab Hadidi family in Gaza City

Palestinians look at destruction caused by Israeli air strikes in Gaza City

A policeman stands on rubble from a building housing AP office and other media in Gaza City that was destroyed after Israeli warplanes demolished it

Palestinians gather around a car after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City

Ahead of the demolition, the AP placed urgent calls to the Israeli military, foreign minister and prime minister's office but were either ignored or told that there was nothing to be done. 

For 15 years, AP´s top floor offices and roof terrace on the now-destroyed building had provided a prime location for covering fighting in Gaza. The news agency's camera offered 24-hour live shots this week as Hamas rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city.

Just a day before the bombing, AP correspondent Fares Akram wrote in a personal story that the AP office was the only place in Gaza were he felt 'somewhat safe.'

'The Israeli military has the coordinates of the high-rise, so it's less likely a bomb will bring it crashing down,' Akram wrote.

The next day, Akram tweeted about running from the building and watching its destruction from afar.

The New York Times joined other news organizations in expressing alarm about the targeting of al-Jalaa tower.

Palestinian mourners cry during the funeral of Husam Asayra, 20 in the West Bank village of Asira al-Qibliya, near Nablus. 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

An Israeli artillery unit fires toward targets in the Gaza Strip, at the Israel-Gaza border on Saturday

Family members who live in the al-Jala tower, a high-rise housing AP and other media offices, flee the building before Israeli airstrikes

Palestinian mourners carry the body of Malek Hamdan who was killed in clashes with Israeli forces, during his funeral in the village of Salem, near of the West Bank city of Nablus,

'The ability of the press to report on the ground is a profoundly important issue that has an impact on everyone.' the newspaper's vice president of communications, Danielle Rhoades Ha, said. 'A free and independent press is essential to helping to inform people, bridge differences and end the conflict.'

A video broadcast by Al-Jazeera showed the building´s owner, Jawwad Mahdi, pleading over the phone with an Israeli intelligence officer to wait 10 minutes to allow journalists to go inside the building to retrieve valuable equipment before it is bombed.

'All I'm asking is to let four people ... to go inside and get their cameras,' he said. 'We respect your wishes, we will not do it if you don't allow it, but give us 10 minutes.' When the officer rejected the request, Mahdi said, 'You have destroyed our life's work, memories, life. I will hang up, do what you want. There is a God.'

Late Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the building was used by Hamas military intelligence. 'It was not an innocent building,' he said.

Israel routinely cites a Hamas presence as a reason for targeting buildings. It also accused the group of using journalists as human shields.

For AP journalists, it was a difficult moment. Most of the AP staff has been sleeping in the bureau, which includes four bedrooms in an upstairs apartment, throughout the current round of fighting, believing that the offices of an international news agency were one of the few safe places in Gaza. In a territory crippled by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, it was equipped with a generator that offered the rare comforts of electricity, air conditioning and running water.

People take cover in a shelter as a siren sounds a warning of incoming rockets fired from the Gaza strip, after their building was hit by a rocket couple of minutes before, in Ramat Gan, central Israel

A woman surveys the damage in her home after it was struck by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, southern Israel

Israeli security forces and emergency services work on a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ramat Gan

AP correspondent Fares Akram said he was resting in an upstairs room when he heard panicked screams from colleagues about the evacuation order. Staffers hastily gathered basic equipment, including laptops and cameras before fleeing downstairs.

'I am heartbroken,' Akram said. 'You feel like you are at home. Above all, you have your memories, your friends. You spend most of your time there.'

Al-Jazeera, the news network funded by Qatar´s government, broadcast the airstrikes live as the building collapsed.

'This channel will not be silenced. Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,' Halla Mohieddeen. on-air anchorperson for Al-Jazeera English said, her voice thick with emotion. 'We can guarantee you that right now.'

Early on Sunday, Hamas fired a heavy barrage of rockets at the metropolis of Tel Aviv, saying it was revenge for flattening the high-rise building.

The Foreign Press Association, which represents some 400 journalists working for international media organizations in Israel and the Palestinian territories, expressed its 'grave concern and dismay' over the attack.

'Knowingly causing the destruction of the offices of some of the world´s largest and most influential news organizations raises deeply worrying questions about Israel´s willingness to interfere with the freedom of the press,' it said. 'The safety of other news bureaus in Gaza is now in question.'

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the attack raises concerns that Israel is targeting the media 'to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza.' He demanded 'detailed and documented justification' for the attack.

The International Press Institute, a global network of journalists and media executives, condemned the attack as a 'gross violation of human rights and internationally agreed norms.'

The Israeli military has long had rocky relations with the foreign media, accusing international journalists of being biased against it.

The attack came a day after the Israeli military had fed vague - and in some cases erroneous - information to the media about a possible ground incursion into Gaza. It turned out that there was no ground invasion, and the statement was part of an elaborate ruse aimed at tricking Hamas militants into defensive underground positions that were then destroyed in Israeli airstrikes.

International journalists have accused the army of duping them and turning them into accessories for a military operation. The army said the error was an honest mistake.

Meanwhile, as Palestinian rocket salvoes hit coastal Tel Aviv, beach-goers in Israel's second most populous city were seen running to shelter, some taking cover by lying down on the floor against walls.

Tel Aviv residents fled amid wailing sirens as Hamas militants fired barrages of rockets. One hit a residential block in the Ramat Gan suburb, killing a 50-year old man, medics said. 

The group said the salvoes responded to overnight strikes on Gaza's Beach refugee camp, where a woman and four of her children were killed when her house was hit. 

A streak of light is seen as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel May 15, 2021

Tel Aviv: Israeli beachgoers are seen rushing towards shelters in Tel Aviv. Rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement towards Israel

Tel Aviv residents fled for cover amid wailing sirens as Hamas militants fired barrages of rockets. One hit a residential block in the Ramat Gan suburb, killing a 50-year old man, medics said

Israeli beachgoers take cover in the central city of Tel Aviv on May 15 following the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip 

Israeli beachgoers rush towards shelters in the central city of Tel Aviv on May 15 following the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement towards Israel

Israeli beachgoers and a dog are seen rushing towards shelters in the central city of Tel Aviv on May 15 after the launching of rockets

Israeli beachgoers pictured going towards shelters in Tel Aviv. Israel, which is also trying to contain an outbreak of internal Jewish-Arab violence, is facing its bloodiest conflict with Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war

The moment the 13-floor building housing was destroyed by the Israeli air strike, sending a huge mushroom cloud into the sky, was captured on video.

Israel 'destroyed Jala Tower in the Gaza Strip, which contains the Al Jazeera and other international press offices,' Al Jazeera said in a tweet.  

Broadcast footage from Al Jazeera, the news network funded by Qatar's government, shows the building collapsing to the ground after the Israeli air strike, sending up a huge mushroom cloud of dust and debris.

'This channel will not be silenced. Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,' an on-air anchorwoman said, her voice thick with emotion. 'We can guarantee you that right now.' 

Jawad Mehdi, the owner of the Jala Tower, said an Israeli intelligence officer warned him he had just one hour to ensure the evacuation of the building. AP's staff and others in the building evacuated immediately.  

The strike came hours after another Israeli air raid on a densely populated refugee camp in Gaza City killed at least 10 Palestinians from an extended family, mostly children, in the deadliest single strike of the current conflict. 

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones amid clashes with Israeli security forces near the Hawara checkpoint south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on May 15, 2021, as Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, the 'catastrophe' of Israel's creation in 1948, which turned hundreds of thousands into refugee

Palestinian protesters take cover from Israeli security forces amid clashes near the Hawara checkpoint south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on May 15, 2021

A Palestinian protester takes cover from Israeli security forces amid clashes near the Hawara checkpoint south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on May 15, 2021

Palestinian protesters react to tear gas fired by Israeli security forces amid clashes near the Hawara checkpoint south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on May 15, 2021

The aftermath following the Israeli strike, which destroyed Jala Tower - a 13-floor building housing Al Jazeera television and Associated Press

Israel 'destroyed Jala Tower in the Gaza Strip, which contains the Al Jazeera and other international press offices,' Al Jazeera said in a tweet. It was reported the army had warned the tower's owner ahead of the strike on Saturday

Smoke billows as an air bomb is dropped on the Jala Tower during an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. Wael al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Gaza, said: 'It's terrible, very sad, to target the Al Jazeera and other press bureaux'

A building housing various international media, including Al Jazeera and The Associated Press, collapses after an Israeli airstrike on Saturday, May 15, in Gaza City

A ball of fire erupts from the Jala Tower as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Saturday, May 15

In a phone call with the officer, he was heard begging for an extra 10 minutes to allow journalists to retrieve their equipment before leaving.

'Give us ten extra minutes,' he urged, but the officer on the other end of the line refused.

Wael al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Gaza, said: 'It's terrible, very sad, to target the Al Jazeera and other press bureaux'. 

Israel alleged its 'fighter jets attacked a high-rise building which hosted military assets belonging to the military intelligence of the Hamas terror organisation'. 

It said: 'The building also hosted offices of civilian media outlets, which the Hamas terror group hides behind and uses as human shields.' 

Both sides have pressed for an advantage as ceasefire efforts gather 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 on Friday in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces shot and killed 11 people.

This picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon shows rockets fired from the Gaza Strip being intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome missile defence system , on May 15, 2021

This picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon shows rockets fired from the Gaza Strip being intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome missile defence system , on May 15, 2021

A thick column of black smoke rises from the Jala Tower as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on May 15

Families who live in Jala Tower, a high-rise housing AP and other media offices, flee the building before Israeli airstrikes on Saturday, May 15

A ball of fire erupts from the Jala Tower as it is destroyed on May 15. Israeli air strikes pounded the Gaza Strip overnight, killing 10 members of an extended family and demolishing a key media building

Dust settles following the destruction of the Jala Tower in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Saturday afternoon, May 15

Smoke rises as the 13-floor building collapses after an Israeli airstrike hits Jala Tower, which houses apartments and several media outlets, including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera

Smoke rises from the Jala Tower as it collapses after being bombed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Saturday, May 15

Debris and smashed windows fall towards the ground after an Israeli airstrike hits the high-rise building on Saturday

A Palestinian policeman looks on at the rubble of the building that house the Associated Press and Al Jazeera's offices in Gaza City after it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike

Israeli strike destroys Gaza building housing Associated Press 

An Israeli airstrike on Saturday targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets. Hours later, Israel bombed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a top leader of Gaza's ruling militant Hamas group.

The Israeli military said Al-Hayeh's 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, and the attack marked a further escalation, signaling that Israel is going after Hamas' top leadership, and not just military commanders. His fate after the strike was not immediately known.

Earlier, AP staffers and other tenants safely evacuated their office building after the military telephoned a warning that the strike was imminent within an hour. Three heavy missiles struck the 12-story building, collapsing it in a giant cloud of dust.

For 15 years, the AP's top-floor office and roof terrace were a prime location for covering Israel's conflicts with Gaza's Hamas rulers, including wars in 2009 and 2014. The news agency's camera offered 24-hour live shots as militants' rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surrounding area this week.

'The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,' AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a 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.'

'This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life,' he said, adding that the AP was seeking information from the Israeli government and was engaged with the U.S. State Department to learn more.

The building that was targeted also housed the offices of Qatari-run Al-Jazeera TV, as well as residential apartments. The Israeli military said Hamas was operating inside it, a standard explanation, and it accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields. But it provided no evidence to back up the claims. 

Reporting by Associated Press 

An Israeli airstrike in Gaza has been condemned as 'completely unacceptable' by Labour. Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said: 'The targeting of media offices in Gaza by Israeli air strikes is completely unacceptable. Press freedom is a fundamental right.

'The devastating escalation of violence - including Hamas rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and air strikes on the Gaza City refugee camp - has cost more civilian lives and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

'The UK must join our international partners in calling for an immediate ceasefire, an end to all rocket attacks and air strikes, and work with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to prevent this dangerous situation deteriorating further.'

The spiralling violence has raised fears of a new Palestinian 'intifada', or uprising, at a time when there have been no peace talks in years. 

Palestinians on Saturday were marking Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, when they commemorate the estimated 700,000 people who were expelled from or fled their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. That raised the possibility of even more unrest.

US diplomat Hady Amr arrived on Friday as part of Washington's efforts to de-escalate the conflict, and the UN Security Council is set to meet on Sunday.

Israel has turned down an Egyptian proposal for a one-year truce that Hamas rulers had accepted, an Egyptian official revealed.

Since Monday night, Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, which has responded by pounding 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 on Saturday of a man killed by a rocket that hit in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv. 

Earlier on Saturday, an airstrike hit a three-story house in Gaza City's Shati refugee camp, killing eight children and two women from an extended family.

Mohammed Hadidi told reporters his wife and five children had gone to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday with relatives.

She and three of the children, aged six to 14, were killed, while an 11-year-old is missing. Only his five-month-old son Omar is known to have survived.

Children's toys and a Monopoly board game could be seen among the rubble, as well as plates of uneaten food from the holiday gathering.

'There was no warning,' said Jamal Al-Naji, a neighbour living in the same building. 'You filmed people eating and then you bombed them?' he said, addressing Israel.

'Why are you confronting us? Go and confront the strong people!' 

The baby boy is reported to have been found next to the body of his deceased mother. Hamas militants responded by firing more rockets into Israel as their battle entered a fifth consecutive night and a US envoy arrived for talks

The two nurses seen wearing face masks as one holds the baby boy at Al-Shifa Hospital. Ten members of a single family - eight children and two women - were killed when a three-storey building in Shati refugee camp collapsed following an Israel strike

A nurse holds the baby boy at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. An airstrike on a house in Gaza City killed at least 10 Palestinians, mostly children - the highest number of fatalities in a single hit since the battle erupted earlier this week

A man gestures as he prepares with others to bury the bodies of Palestinian children and their mother from the Al-Hadidi family, who were killed amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, during their funeral at a cemetery on May 15

Palestinians take part in the funeral of the Abu Hatab family in Gaza City on May 15 - an extended family of 10 who were killed early in an Israeli air strike on the western Gaza Strip

Hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinians protest along Lebanon-Israel border 

Hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinians have protested along the Lebanon-Israel border, with some climbing a border wall and triggering Israeli fire that wounded one person.

The protest on Saturday evening in the Lebanese border village of Adaisseh saw hundreds marching and waving Palestinian, Lebanese and yellow flags of the militant Hezbollah group.

Some protesters climbed a high border wall where they placed Palestinian and Hezbollah flags.

Supporters of Hezbollah and the Palestinian revolution faction climb the wall during protest at the Al Odaisseh area opposite the Al-Mutaleh Israeli settlement at the Lebanese border with Israel, 15 May 2021

Lebanon's state-run National News Agency reported that Israeli troops fired warning shots near Adaisseh, wounding one person who was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Lebanese and Palestinians from around Lebanon have been heading to the border to protest against Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip over the past days. On Friday, Israeli troops opened fire at protesters who crossed a border fence, killing a 21-year-old Hezbollah member.

Earlier Saturday, an Israeli military spokesman warned Lebanese authorities not to allow protesters to breach the border.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Hamas said it fired a salvo of rockets at southern Israel in response to the air strike.

A furious Israeli barrage early on Friday killed a family of six in their house and sent thousands fleeing to UN-run shelters.

The military said the operation involved 160 warplanes dropping some 80 tonnes of explosives over the course of 40 minutes and succeeded in destroying a vast tunnel network used by Hamas.

Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said the military aims to minimise collateral damage in striking military targets. But measures it takes in other strikes, such as warning shots to get civilians to leave, were not 'feasible this time'.

Israeli media said the military believed dozens of militants were killed inside the tunnels.

The Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant groups have confirmed 20 deaths in their ranks, but the military said the real number is far higher.

Gaza's infrastructure, already in widespread disrepair because of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after Hamas seized power in 2007, showed signs of breaking down further, compounding residents' misery.

The territory's sole power plant is at risk of running out of fuel in the coming days.

The UN said Gazans are experiencing daily power cuts of eight to 12 hours and at least 230,000 have limited access to tap water.

The impoverished and densely populated territory is home to two million Palestinians, most of them the descendants of refugees from what is now Israel.

The conflict has reverberated widely. Israeli cities with mixed Arab and Jewish populations have seen daily violence, with mobs from each community fighting in the streets and destroying each other's property.

The tensions began in east Jerusalem earlier this month, 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.

Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem late Monday, in an apparent attempt to present itself as the champion of the protesters.

During the conflict that spiralled from there, Israel said it wants to inflict as much damage as it can on Hamas' military infrastructure in Gaza.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that Hamas will 'pay a very heavy price' for its rocket attacks, as Israel masses troops at the frontier.

US president Joe Biden has expressed support for Israel while saying he hopes to bring the violence under control.

Pedestrians look on as barricade tape surrounds an area hit by a rocket fired from Gaza, in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv District, Israel, on May 15 in an image obtained from social media 

A fireball and smoke billow up into the air during an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City targeting the Ansar compound, linked to the Hamas movement, in the Gaza Strip early on May 15

A Palestinian firefighter speaks to colleagues following an Israeli strike on Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip on May 15 

Palestinians inspect the damages following Israeli air strikes in Gaza City amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence on May 15

Israeli man is killed by Hamas rocket in Tel Aviv as five-month-old boy is pulled ALIVE from rubble after air strike on Gaza refugee camp while US envoy arrives to broker talks   

An Israeli man has been killed by a Hamas rocket in Tel Aviv and a five-month-old baby boy has been pulled alive from rubble following an overnight air strike on a refugee camp in Gaza City.

Several people also received minor injuries after rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, according to the Times of Israel. 

The launch came in response to Israel's airstrike on a house killing 10 Palestinians in Gaza City, with harrowing pictures show nurses holding a boy, who was reported to have been found next to the body of his deceased mother, at Al-Shifa Hospital. 

A three-storey building in Shati refugee camp collapsed following the airstrike, killing at least 10 members of an extended family - eight children and two women - the highest number of fatalities in a single hit since the battle erupted earlier this week. 

Another Israeli airstrike has also demolished Jala Tower, which housed Al Jazeera television and Associated Press, with broadcast footage showing a huge mushroom cloud of dust and debris erupting from the 13-floor building.

A nurse holds a baby, Omar, who was pulled alive from underneath rubble while other members of his family perished, at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Saturday after an Israeli air strike hit al-Shati Refugee Camp without advance warning overnight

Mohammed al-Hadidi with his baby son who was pulled alive from underneath the rubble while three of his children, aged six to 14, and wife perished in the Israeli airstrike 

United Nations Security Council to meet on Sunday over violence

The United Nations (UN) said the Security Council would meet on Sunday to address the violence.

But Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave no indication that Israel was ready to ease its campaign.

'I said we'd deliver heavy blows to Hamas and other terror groups, and we're doing that,' Netanyahu said.

'They're paying and will continue to pay dearly for that. It's not over yet.'

Israel estimates that more than 30 leaders of Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad have been killed.

It has hit sites it describes as military targets such as Hamas bomb-making facilities and the homes of senior militant commanders.

A US envoy arrived for talks, with the United Nations (UN) Security Council set to meet on Sunday. US Secretary for Israel-Palestinian Affairs, Hady Amr, was due to meet Israeli leaders in Jerusalem, where the latest outburst of violence began, on Saturday before heading to the occupied West Bank for talks with Palestinian officials.  

He wants to encourage a 'sustainable calm', State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter said. 

But despite intensifying diplomatic efforts to ease five days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, Israel's air force struck several sites in the coastal enclave overnight, while rockets again tore towards Israel. 

Mohammed Hadidi told reporters his wife and five children had gone to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday with relatives. She and three of the children, aged six to 14, were killed, while an 11-year-old is missing. Only his five-month-old son Omar is known to have survived. 

Eleven Palestinians died in clashes in the occupied West Bank on Friday and there were fears of worse violence today as Palestinians mark Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, when they commemorate the estimated 700,000 people who were expelled from or fled their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation.

Washington has been criticised for not doing more to end the intensifying violence after it blocked a UN Security Council meeting scheduled for Friday. 

The overall death toll in Gaza since Monday now tops 140, more than 30 of them children. Around 950 people have been wounded.

US Secretary for Israel-Palestinian Affairs, Hady Amr (pictured left), was due to meet Israeli leaders in Jerusalem on Saturday before heading to the occupied West Bank for talks with Palestinian officials. But Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) gave no indication that Israel was ready to ease its campaign

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