Thursday Feb 02, 2023

‘Nothing will stop us’: Al Jazeera marks Gaza office bombing – Al Jazeera English


Gaza City – Israeli air raids demolished the Al-Jalaa building that hosted Al Jazeera’s bureau and The Associated Press office on May 15 last year.

Dust and debris plumed up into the air as the 11-storey building, which also housed a number of residences and other offices, was levelled, pounded flat.

The bombing sparked widespread anger. Al Jazeera condemned the attack at the time, calling on “all media and human rights institutions to join forces” in denouncing the bombing and to “hold the government of Israel accountable”.

Between May 10 and 21 last year, Israeli forces carried out a full-scale military offensive against the Gaza Strip that resulted in the deaths of 261 Palestinians, including 67 children and 41 women.

(Al Jazeera)

After the bombing, the Al Jazeera crew in Gaza – who lost most of their equipment – moved to several temporary headquarters over the past year in what they described as a time full of instability.

At Al Jazeera’s current office, visitors streamed in recently to offer their condolences for the loss of Al Jazeera’s veteran reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces in the Jenin refugee camp last week.

Wael Al Dahdouh, 53, director of the Al Jazeera bureau in Gaza, said it is still painful to remember the day when the team lost their office during the Israeli attack.

Wael Al Dahdouh, director of Al Jazeera bureau in Gaza [Abdelkahim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘Got out right away’

He recounted that afternoon: The team was out covering a nearby bombing when the owner of the building called to inform them that an Israeli official ordered an immediate evacuation because it was going to be bombed.

“It was a great shock, we thought the bombing of the tower in which we are located was very unlikely. It only hosted media offices, companies and the rest were residential apartments.”

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

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

“The scene of the office being bombed while I was on air covering the news was one of the most difficult moments in my life. I was doing my job despite my sadness for all the memories of the office we spent 12 years in.

“This memory is linked to our efforts, our work, our equipment and the archive that documented many memories and scenes,” he added.

After the bombing, Wael said the team moved to a hotel in western Gaza and were hosted by the AFP news agency to do their live coverage of the ongoing Israeli assault on the territory.

“We gathered our strength and continued to cover despite the dangers and hardships, and despite all the sadness, anger and regret over losing the office,” Wael said.

Wael Al Dahdouh receives visitors who came to Al Jazeera’s office to offer condolences after the death of Shireen Abu Akleh [Abdelkahim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

Wael spoke intermittently as he received visitors who came to offer their condolences for the assassination of Abu Akleh.

“The anniversary of our office tower coincided with the loss of another tower of the press in Palestine, our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh,” …….


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