‘Nothing will stop us’: Al Jazeera marks Gaza office bombing | Israel-Palestine conflict News

Gaza City – Israeli airstrikes destroyed the Al-Jalaa building, where the Al Jazeera office and the Associated Press office are located, on May 15 of last year.

Dust and debris rose into the air as the 11-story building, which also houses several other residences and offices, leveling, flattening.

The bombing sparked widespread anger. Al Jazeera condemned the attack at the time, calling on “all media and human rights organizations to join forces” to denounce the bombing and “hold the Israeli government accountable”.

Between May 10 and 21 of last year, Israeli forces conducted an all-out military strike against the Gaza Strip resulted in the deaths of 261 Palestinians, including 67 children and 41 women.

INTERACT Israel bombed Al Jazeera office in Gaza one year
(Al Jazeera)

After the bombing, the Al Jazeera crew in Gaza – who lost most of their equipment – moved to a number of temporary headquarters over the past year during what they described as fraught with unrest.

At Al Jazeera’s current office, guests have recently come to offer condolences on the passing of veteran Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Aklehwho was shot dead by Israeli troops in the Jenin refugee camp last week.

Wael Al Dahdouh, 53, director of Al Jazeera’s Gaza office, said it still hurts when he recalls the day the team lost its office during the Israeli attack.

Director of the Al Jazeera office in Gaza
Wael Al Dahdouh, director of the Al Jazeera office in Gaza [Abdelkahim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘Get out immediately’

He recounted that afternoon: The team was covering up a bomb attack nearby when the owner of the building called to inform that an Israeli official had ordered an immediate evacuation because it was about to be hit. bomb.

“It was a huge shock, we think the bomb attack on the tower we are located in is very unlikely. It hosts only media offices, companies, and the rest are residential apartments.”

“In those moments, I couldn’t think. I told everyone to evacuate. We took what we could from the office and got out right away,” he said.

Wael and the residents were able to leave the building just minutes before the tower was bombed and fell to the ground.

“The scene where my office was bombed while I was on the news was one of the hardest moments of my life. I am doing my job although I am saddened by the memories of the office we spent 12 years.

“This celebration is linked to our efforts, our work, our equipment, and the archive that captures many memories and spectacles,” he added.

After the bombing, Wael said the team had moved to a hotel in western Gaza and was organized by AFP news agency to cover live Israel’s ongoing assault on the territory.

“We focused our energies and continued to cover despite the danger and hardship, despite all the sadness, anger and regret over the loss of our office,” Wael said.

Visitors visit the Al Jazeera office in Gaza.
Wael Al Dahdouh receives visitors to Al Jazeera’s office to offer condolences after the death of Shireen Abu Akleh [Abdelkahim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

Wael interrupted when he received guests who had come to offer condolences over the assassination of Abu Akleh.

“Our office tower celebration coincides with the loss of another press tower in Palestine, our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh,” he said.

“We were planning to mark the anniversary of the bombing with us waking up and moving into our new office and celebrating. But losing Shireen makes this joy incomplete.”

‘Sheikh of photographers’

Mahmoud Obaid, 65, a senior videographer nicknamed the “giant of photographers” in the Gaza Strip, started working for Al Jazeera upon its founding in 1996.

Since then, Mahmoud said, he has followed many watershed moments with the Al Jazeera group, including Israeli invasions, escalations and wars on Palestinian territory.

“During these years, Al Jazeera’s office moved from place to place, until we settled in al-Jalaa Tower in 2009,” he said.

“The al-Jalaa tower office is like our second home. We used to spend more time at the office than at home with our family, and our connection to this place is very strong.”

Senior videographer of Al Jazeera holding his camera.
Al Jazeera cameraman, Mahmoud Obaid, video recording of Shireen Abu Akleh’s memorial photo [Abdelkahim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

About the time they were informed of the bombing, Mahmoud said: “We were very worried, our thoughts were on the most important things that we would get out of the office before the bombing.

“The equipment we took out did not exceed 5% of the total amount of equipment we lost, including cameras and transmitters,” Mahmoud said.

“I wish we had at least two hours to evacuate our headquarters and get our equipment, but from the time of informing us and the bombing, it was only 45 minutes, not enough for anything. .”

Mahmoud said the towers bombed in the May attack were evacuated for a full day or more, with the exception of the al-Jalaa Tower, which was bombed less than an hour from the time of announcement.

“We felt a lot of uncertainty last year – new locations, new roads and unfinished equipment, but we got through it and are now. Nothing will stop us. The Israeli occupation has always targeted us as journalists across all media, but it will not affect our determination to report the truth.”

‘I was terrified’

Youmna El Sayed, 34, who started working as a reporter for Al Jazeera English last year during the war in the Gaza Strip, described the moment the tower was bombed as a huge shock to everyone.

“At those times, I had just returned from reporting on war wounded in Al-Shifa . Medical HospitalYoumna said.

“I was terrified, I think this is one of the safest places in the Gaza Strip. The office of an American media outlet and the Al Jazeera office are there, and the rest are residents,” she said.

Youmna, a mother of four, says her thoughts are with the families who live in the 60-unit building.

“I like to take the stairs from the 12th floor and not use the elevator to see if I can help any family along the way. There was a mother on the 8th floor who was very worried and crying with 3 children under 5 years old and a baby in her arms, and she just couldn’t handle it,” she said.

“Despite my own fears, I reassured her and took the two children out of her arms and told her to quickly bring whatever she wanted from her apartment and not to worry about things. the kid that I beat with me.”

Reporter of the English channel Al Jazeera
Youmna El Sayed, English correspondent for Al Jazeera in Gaza [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

After Youmna exited the building, the mother also went downstairs with the other families in the tower, shortly after, the building was bombed.

“I was in the air at the time covering the bombing, it was a very difficult moment, the tower collapsed like a cookie,” she said.

A year later, Youmna said she may not have spent much time at the former Al Jazeera headquarters in Gaza, but she clearly felt the impact of the bombing on her colleagues, who had lost their equipment. their equipment, possessions, and memories.

Despite the Israeli attack, she insisted “nothing will stop them from getting their message across”.

“Even though I have a non-Palestinian nationality so I could leave Gaza at the time of the war, I prefer to stay and cover up what is going on,” she said.

“The Al Jazeera office bombing did not frighten me at all, and a few days ago our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh went missing. These incidents make me more persistent to finish the message – no matter what happens.

“Nothing will stop us from the message, except death.”

INTERACTIVE Shireen Abu Akleh Killed

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