Friday

30th Jul 2021

EU criticises Israeli bombing of Gaza Strip media office

  • The aerial attack on the Gaza tower block housing AP and Al Jazeera on Saturday (Photo: Al-Jazeera)

The EU says Israel's rocket attacks against a Gaza Strip international media centre is "extremely worrying."

The comment on Monday (17 May) follows the Israeli bombing raid that laid waste to the offices of the Associated Press (AP), Al-Jazeera and other international media.

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"The safety and security of journalists and all their colleagues, the press people, is essential," said EU foreign affairs spokesperson, Peter Stano.

The AP offices occupied the top floor of the 12-story al-Jalaa building, which was destroyed over the weekend after a warning from the Israelis.

Israel says the building was used by Hamas military intelligence.

But the AP denies it and has since called for an independent investigation into the bombings.

"We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk," said AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt, in a statement.

Pressed on whether the EU would support such an investigation, Stano said the immediate priority is to de-escalate the violence.

"I don't want to pre-empt what action will be going forward," he said.

EU foreign ministers are on Tuesday set to discuss the spiralling conflict.

Their aim is to formulate a joint position in the hopes of stopping the violence.

Sanctions against Israel are not on the table, noted Stano.

"At this stage, no one as far as I am aware, brought up the issue of sanctions," he said, adding that such moves requires the unanimity of all 27 EU states.

Meanwhile, government buildings in both Austria and Slovenia have raised the blue-and-white Israeli flag.

"Israel has the right to defend itself against these attacks. To show our solidarity … we have put up the Israeli flag," said the Austrian foreign ministry, in a statement.

More than 200 people have been killed in Gaza Strip since the outbreak of the latest fighting, including at least 58 children.

AFP journalists in the Gaza Strip say Israel launched dozens of strikes overnight Sunday into Monday.

At least ten people in Israel, including a child, have also been killed after Hamas fired more than 2,000 rockets.

Most of those rockets were either intercepted by the Israelis anti-defence system or fell short.

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