Gaza Metropolis – Israeli air raids demolished the Al-Jalaa constructing that hosted Al Jazeera’s bureau and The Related Press workplace on Might 15 final 12 months.
Mud and particles plumed up into the air because the 11-storey constructing, which additionally housed plenty of residences and different places of work, was levelled, pounded flat.
The bombing sparked widespread anger. Al Jazeera condemned the assault on the time, calling on “all media and human rights establishments to affix forces” in denouncing the bombing and to “maintain the federal government of Israel accountable”.
Between Might 10 and 21 final 12 months, Israeli forces carried out a full-scale army offensive towards the Gaza Strip that resulted within the deaths of 261 Palestinians, together with 67 youngsters and 41 ladies.
After the bombing, the Al Jazeera crew in Gaza – who misplaced most of their tools – moved to a number of momentary headquarters over the previous 12 months in what they described as a time filled with instability.
At Al Jazeera’s present workplace, guests streamed in not too long ago to supply their condolences for the lack of Al Jazeera’s veteran reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces within the Jenin refugee camp final week.
Wael Al Dahdouh, 53, director of the Al Jazeera bureau in Gaza, stated it’s nonetheless painful to recollect the day when the group misplaced their workplace in the course of the Israeli assault.
‘Obtained out straight away’
He recounted that afternoon: The group was out overlaying a close-by bombing when the proprietor of the constructing known as to tell them that an Israeli official ordered a direct evacuation as a result of it was going to be bombed.
“It was a terrific shock, we thought the bombing of the tower wherein we’re positioned was impossible. It solely hosted media places of work, firms and the remaining had been residential residences.”
“In these moments, I couldn’t consider something. I instructed everybody to evacuate. We took what might take from the workplace and obtained out straight away,” he stated.
Wael and the residents had been in a position to depart the constructing solely minutes earlier than the tower was bombed and crashed to the bottom.
“The scene of the workplace being bombed whereas I used to be on air overlaying the information was one of the vital troublesome moments in my life. I used to be doing my job regardless of my disappointment for all of the reminiscences of the workplace we spent 12 years in.
“This reminiscence is linked to our efforts, our work, our tools and the archive that documented many reminiscences and scenes,” he added.
After the bombing, Wael stated the group moved to a lodge in western Gaza and had been hosted by the AFP information company to do their reside protection of the continued Israeli assault on the territory.
“We gathered our power and continued to cowl regardless of the risks and hardships, and regardless of all of the disappointment, anger and remorse over dropping the workplace,” Wael stated.
Wael spoke intermittently as he acquired guests who got here to supply their condolences for the assassination of Abu Akleh.
“The anniversary of our workplace tower coincided with the lack of one other tower of the press in Palestine, our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh,” he stated.
“We had been planning to mark our bombing anniversary with us getting up once more and transferring to a brand new workplace and celebrating. However dropping Shireen made this pleasure incomplete.”
‘Sheikh of Photographers’
Mahmoud Obaid, 65, a senior cameraman nicknamed the “sheikh of photographers” within the Gaza Strip, began working for Al Jazeera at its founding in 1996.
Since then, Mahmoud stated, he has lined many watershed moments with the Al Jazeera group, together with Israeli invasions, escalations and wars within the Palestinian territory.
“Throughout these years, Al Jazeera’s workplace moved from one place to a different, till we lastly settled in 2009 in al-Jalaa Tower,” he stated.
“The al-Jalaa Tower workplace was like our second dwelling. We used to spend extra time within the workplace than we spent in our properties with our households, and our connection to the place was very robust.”
In regards to the second they had been knowledgeable of the bombing, Mahmoud stated: “We obtained very nervous, our ideas had been about what are crucial issues that we are going to get out of the workplace earlier than the bombing.
“The tools we took out didn’t exceed 5 % of the entire tools we misplaced, together with cameras and broadcasting gadgets,” Mahmoud stated.
“I want we had at the least two hours to evacuate our headquarters and take our tools, however between the second of informing us and the bombing, there have been solely 45 minutes, not sufficient for something.”
Mahmoud stated the towers that had been bombed in the course of the Might offensive got a full day or greater than 5 hours to evacuate, aside from the al-Jalaa Tower, which was bombed lower than an hour from the second of notification.
“We felt lots of instability in the course of the earlier 12 months – new place, new roads, and incomplete tools, however we obtained over it and right here we’re. Nothing will cease us. The Israeli occupation all the time targets us as journalists in all media shops, but it surely is not going to have an effect on our willpower to report the reality.”
‘I used to be terrified’
Youmna El Sayed, 34, who began working as a correspondent for Al Jazeera English final 12 months in the course of the struggle on the Gaza Strip, described the second the tower was bombed as a terrific shock to everybody.
“At these moments, I had simply returned from reporting on the war-wounded individuals at Al-Shifa Medical Hospital, till the information of the evacuation of the tower got here,” Youmna stated.
“I used to be terrified, I believed this was one of many most secure locations within the Gaza Strip. The workplace of an American media outlet and the Al Jazeera workplace had been there, and the remaining had been residents,” she stated.
Youmna, a mom of 4, stated her ideas had been with the households who lived within the 60-apartment constructing.
“I most well-liked to go down the steps from the twelfth ground and never use the elevator to see if I might assist any of the households on my approach. There was a mom on the eighth ground very nervous and crying with three youngsters below the age of 5 and a child in her arms, and he or she couldn’t handle,” she stated.
“Regardless of my very own concern, I reassured her and took the 2 youngsters from her and instructed her to rapidly deliver no matter she needed from her condominium and to not fear concerning the youngsters, whom I took down with me.”
After Youmna was out of the constructing, the mom additionally got here downstairs with different households within the tower then, moments later, the constructing was bombed.
“I used to be on the air at that second overlaying the bombing, it was a really troublesome second, the tower collapsed like a biscuit,” she stated.
A 12 months later, Youmna stated she might not have spent as a lot time within the former Gaza headquarters of Al Jazeera, however she felt keenly the impression of the bombing on her colleagues, who misplaced their tools, possessions, and reminiscences.
Regardless of the Israeli assault, she asserted “nothing will cease them from conveying the message”.
“Though I maintain a non-Palestinian nationality that allows me to go away Gaza on the time of the struggle, I most well-liked to remain and canopy what’s going on,” she stated.
“The bombing of the Al Jazeera workplace didn’t intimidate me in any respect, and few days in the past got here the lack of our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh. These incidents made me extra persistent to finish the message – it doesn’t matter what occurs.
“Nothing will cease us from the message, besides demise.”