Gaza: A 12-storey Gaza tower, housing the offices of Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera and the US-based Associated Press, collapsed on Saturday after being struck by Israeli missiles, as per reports.
The air strike came nearly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building, which housed several offices and residential apartments. The strike brought the entire 12-story building down, collapsing with a gigantic cloud of dust. There was no immediate explanation for why it was attacked.
‘In two seconds, everything vanished’, Al Jazeera quoted its correspondent as saying.
However, the Israeli military did not immediately provide comment on the incident.
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 at least 11 people.
The spiraling 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 was now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. That raised the possibility of even more unrest.
Israel launched its offensive after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem during the fasting month of Ramadan.
These escalated ahead of a court hearing – now postponed – that could lead to the eviction of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem homes claimed by Jewish settlers.
For Israel, the targeting of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem posed a new challenge in the confrontation with Hamas, regarded as a terrorist group by Israel and the United States.
A Palestinian source said truce efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations had made no progress to end the violence.