Why did Israel target the media and civilians in their latest airstrike?

Israel has taken responsibility for an airstrike on a high-rise building that housed international media, residential apartments and other offices.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine continues to escalate. A day ago, Israel’s military ordered the Al Jazeera Media Network employees, The Associated Press, and other civilians to be evacuated approximately one hour before the airstrike commenced.

The reason for the attack? Israel’s government claimed that the building was being used to contain “Hamas military intelligence”. Hamas is a Palestinian militant group whose goal is to defeat Israel and liberate Palestine from its influence.

Media Tower Al Jazeera
Photo: Sopa Images/Lightrocket Via Getty Images/FORBES

“We left the elevator for the elderly and for the children to evacuate,” explained Palestinian freelance journalist, Youmna al-Sayed.

“And we were all running down the stairs and whoever could help children took them down … I myself helped two children of the residents there and I took them downstairs – everyone was just running quickly.”


Footage of the building’s owner, Jawad Mehdi, has since circulated online. In the three minute clip, Mehdi can be seen pleading with an Israeli officer on the phone.

“Can you please ask whoever’s in charge … We just want four people, and they’re wearing press vests. They’re not going to get weapons. They’re going to get their cameras and their work gear…” Mehdi said in the middle of a crowd of anxious journalists and residents. The Israeli officer refused Mehdi’s request.

“Listen. No one is allowed to go back in the building. No one.”

Shortly afterwards, the airstrike levelled the entire building, reducing it to a pile of rubble.

For the past week, Gaza has been the subject of airstrikes and bombings to “over 90 targets”, many of which have led to the conflict’s current death toll of 192 people (58 being children). Furthermore, more than 1200 people have been reported wounded.

Tensions between Israel and Palestine continue to boil. While the conflict has recently been escalated due to “the threatened eviction[s] of some Palestinian families in East Jerusalem”, the root of the tension dates back at least 100 years.

After World War I, it was decided that Palestinian Jews needed a “national home” in British-controlled Palestine, a move that Palestinian Arabs disagreed with as they believed that the land was rightfully theirs (they also, at the time, outnumbered Palestinian Jews).

It was ultimately decided for Palestine to be separated into Jewish and Arab states, making Jerusalem “an international city”. Though Jewish officials welcomed the decision, Arab officials did not.

When discussing the current conflict in a televised address, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had this to say:

“They vacated the premises before the target was destroyed and that’s why you don’t hear of casualties from these collapsing terror towers, because we take special care to avoid these civil casualties; exactly the opposite of Hamas.”

It’s currently unclear how this would affect Israel’s plans to share COVID-19 vaccines with Palestinians who work in Israel.