Israeli warplanes kill eight children and two women of single extended family in Shati refugee camp. Separately, Israel bombs building housing The Associated Press, Al Jazeera and a number of offices and apartments in Gaza City.
An Israeli air strike targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets hours after another Israeli air raid on a densely populated refugee camp killed at least 10 Palestinians from an extended family, mostly children.
The owner of the building had been warned on Saturday in advance by the Israeli military of an impending missile strike.
The building also contained a number of apartments and other offices.
The strike brought the entire 12-story building down, collapsing with a gigantic cloud of dust.
Israel "destroyed Jala Tower in the Gaza Strip, which contains the Al Jazeera office and other international press offices," Al Jazeera said in a tweet, with an AP journalist saying the army had warned the tower's owner ahead of the strike.
Al Jazeera also broadcast the air strikes live as the building collapsed.
"The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza," Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, said.
Al Jazeera's Gaza-based journalist Khaled Lubbad told TRT World's Nizar Sadawi that Israel gave journalists just a few minutes as they abandoned their "memories and equipment" before Israeli army reduced the entire building into mangled heap of concrete, glass and iron
Israeli military spokesperson confirmed it struck media building in Gaza, claiming it contained "Hamas military intelligence".
In pictures: Israeli air strike destroys Jala Tower in besieged Gaza housing Qatar-based Al Jazeera television and American news agency The Associated Press pic.twitter.com/34S5wIj40U— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) May 15, 2021
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said: "We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organisations 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."
"The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today," Pruitt said.
"We are ready to support our colleagues in Gaza any way possible," TRT Chairman and Director General Ibrahim Eren said.
WATCH: The owner of al-Jalaa tower pleads with an Israeli officer on live TV to let journalists collect their gear before he bombs it.— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) May 15, 2021
Moments later, Israeli air strikes demolish the #Gaza building that housed several international media offices used by AlJazeera and MEE pic.twitter.com/a5PRzQNOkC
'You have destroyed our life's work'
A video broadcast by Al Jazeera showed the high-rise building's owner, Jawwad Mahdi, pleading over the phone with an Israeli intelligence officer for permission to wait 10 minutes so journalists could to go inside the building to retrieve valuable equipment before it was 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."
The officer on the other end of the phone rejected the request, at which point Mahdi says: "You have destroyed our life's work, memories, life. I will hang up. Do what you want. There is a God."
Safety of media 'paramount responsibility' – W House
The White House said it has cautioned Israel about the importance of protecting independent media.
"We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility," White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted.
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.
Al Jazeera's Khaled Lubbad tells TRT World that Israel gave journalists just a few minutes as they abandoned their "memories and equipment" before Israeli army reduced the entire building into mangled heap of concrete, glass and iron pic.twitter.com/HUY431U0oh— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) May 15, 2021
10 members of family killed
Earlier on Saturday, ten members of a single extended family were killed in an Israeli air strike on the western Gaza, according to medics in the besieged Palestinian enclave.
The eight children and two women were killed when a three-storey building in Shati refugee camp collapsed following an Israeli strike, medical sources said.
Israeli warplanes struck multiple targets in Gaza overnight, while Palestinian resistance groups fired some 200 rockets at southern Israel, around 30 of which fell short, hitting the ground inside Gaza, the Israeli military said.
Speaking outside Shifa hospital in Gaza City, the father of four of the children, Muhammad al Hadidi, said he wanted "the unjust world to see these crimes".
"They were safe in their homes, they did not carry weapons, they did not fire rockets," he said of his children, who were killed "wearing their clothes for Eid al Fitr", the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
Both Hadidi and Mohammad Abu Hattab, his brother-in-law and host, were away from Hattab's home when it collapsed.
The Abu Hattabs' five-month-old baby also survived.
'War crime in its own right'
A spokesman for Hamas that governs Gaza declared the deadly air strike "a war crime in its own right."
The overall death toll in Gaza since Monday now stands at 139, 39 of them children. Around 950 people have been wounded.
On Monday, Hamas fired rockets towards Jerusalem in response to a bloody Israeli police action at the flashpoint Al Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, prompting Israel to begin air strikes.
More than 2,300 rockets have been fired at Israel since then, killing nine people, including a child and a soldier, Israeli officials say. More than 560 people have been wounded.
Hamas relies on homemade rockets in stark comparison to the Israeli military armed with a $16.6 billion spending budget.
Meanwhile, protesters took to the streets in London on Saturday to demonstrate against the ongoing Israeli violence in the Middle East.
Lines of protesters waving banners and Palestinian flags stretched through the English capital, as they called on the UK government to take "immediate action" to help end the fighting in the region.