The Associated Press president says agency ‘narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life’ in Israeli bombing of Gaza media building

Al-Jala tower
Fire erupts from the Al-Jalaa Tower as it’s destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza city controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 15, 2021. Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Gary Pruitt, AP president and CEO, said he was “horrified” by the Israeli military’s destruction of a tower where its journalists worked.
  • The Israeli military Saturday launched an airstrike that flattened the Al-Jalaa tower.
  • Pruitt said about a dozen journalists quickly evacuated the building after receiving word of the strike.
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Gary Pruitt, the president and CEO of The Associated Press, on Saturday said he was “horrified” after the Israeli military destroyed the building that housed its local bureau.

An Israeli airstrike Saturday destroyed the Al-Jalaa tower, the building that housed journalists working for The Associated Press, Al Jazeera, and local media outlets.

“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,” Pruitt said in a statement released by the news agency. “They have long known the location of our bureau and knew journalists were there. We received a warning that the building would be hit.”

The Israel Defense Force claimed that the building was being used by “Hamas military intelligence,” though it so far has not provided specific details.

“The building contained civilian media offices, which Hamas hides behind and deliberately uses as human shields,” the IDF said in a statement.

According to previous reports, people inside the building were given about an hour’s notice ahead of the airstrike and were not afforded the opportunity to remove any of their equipment from the building.

Following the attack on the building Saturday, Al Jazeera reporter Youmna al-Sayed said “the destruction is massive” and “no place in Gaza now seems safe.”

Pruitt said the Israeli military had “long known the location” of its Gaza bureau and said that the agency received warning that the building was going to be struck. He said the AP was working with the Israeli government and the US State Department to learn more about what happened.

“This is an incredibly disturbing development,” he said. “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,” Pruitt said.