The Al-Sharouk compound, which houses many media offices in Gaza, has been targeted once again in an Israeli airstrike. Islamic Jihad says one of its top leaders was killed in the attack.
A pillar of smoke was seen billowing from the 10-story building as fire engines and ambulances rushed to the scene. Islamic Jihad says one of its top militant leaders, Ramiz Harb was killed in the strike on Monday. Harb is a leading figure Islamic Jihad's militant wing, the Al Quds Brigades. The IDF described Harb as a chief propagandist for the mlitant group.
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) confirmed via Twitter that four Islamic Jihad operatives who were hiding in a media building were the intended target of the attack on Monday. Several people are also reported to be wounded.
"The senior PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] cadre was operating in a media building. They were't [sic] there to be interviewed. They were using reporters as human shields,” the IDF tweeted.
“We targeted only the 2nd floor, which is where the senior terrorists were. The rest of the building was unharmed. Direct hit confirmed,” they continued.
Apart from Harb, Baha Abu al-Ata Tissir, the commander of Islamic Jihad’s Gaza City Brigade, and senior operatives Mahmoud Mahmed Jabari and Halil Batini were believed to be in the building at the time of the attack. It is currently unknown if the other three men died in the attack.
The International Federation of Journalists demanded a full inquiry by the United Nations to investigate “deliberate attacks” by the Israeli military against media buildings in Gaza and to “take action” against the country’s government.
"The international community must respond immediately to this outrage. The rights of journalists in conflict zones have been particularly highlighted by the United Nations and members states cannot stand by when one state acts in a reckless and dangerous manner," the group released in a statement on Monday.
Six journalists were injured following a previous Israeli airstrike on two buildings in the media compound early on Sunday. RT’s office in Gaza was also affected by the attack. RT Arabic correspondent Saed Suerki said the Israeli Air Force (IAF) had intentionally targeted the tower blocks, which have housed foreign and local media offices for over a decade. Suerki said four missiles hit their office building.
Witnesses said the buildings were evacuated after the initial attack, which was followed by at least two more hits. Two buildings were heavily damaged.
Sky News, Italian RAI, German ARD, Kuwait-TV are among the media outlets working out of the compound. The Hamas TV station, Al Aqsa is located on the top floor.Some of those injured on Sunday were employees of the Palestinian Ma’an news agency. A cameraman for the local al-Quds TV had his leg amputated as a result of injuries he received during the strike.
The Middle East Foreign Press Association demanded an explanation as to why the IDF was targeting media buildings, which is a violation of international law, following Sunday's airstrike. Reporters Without Borders also condemned the Israeli missile attacks.
The IDF responded "if Hamas commanders in Gaza are able to communicate, they can attack us. This is the capability that we targeted." The Israeli military said it was aware that foreign journalists were in the buildings, but were not directly targeted in the airstrikes