‘Nothing can stop us’: Al Jazeera flags Gaza office bombing news of Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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

The 11-story building also houses many residences and other offices, sending dust and debris into the air. smooth, smooth.

The bombing sparked widespread outrage. Al Jazeera condemned the attack at the time, calling on “all media and human rights bodies to unite” to condemn the bombing and to “hold the Israeli government accountable”.

From 10 to 21 May last year, the Israeli army implemented full-scale military offensive Gaza Strip, killing 261 Palestinians, including 67 children and 41 women.

(Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera staff, who lost most of their equipment after the bombing, moved to several temporary headquarters over the past year, what they said was a period of instability.

At Al Jazeera’s current offices, a recent influx of visitors mourns the passing of a senior Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu AckleyHe was shot and killed by Israeli troops in the Jenin refugee camp last week.

Wael Al Dahdouh, 53, Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief, said it was still painful to recall the day the team lost its office during the Israeli attack.

Director of Al Jazeera's Gaza Office
Wael Al Dahdouh, Al Jazeera Gaza bureau director [Abdelkahim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

‘Get out now’

That afternoon, he recalled, the team was investigating a nearby bombing when the building’s owner called to inform them that an Israeli official had ordered an immediate evacuation because it was about to be bombed.

“It’s a huge shock, and we see little chance of bombing the tower we’re on. It’s only hosting media offices, companies, and the rest are residential apartments.”

“At that moment, I couldn’t remember anything. I told everyone to evacuate. We took what could be taken from the office and left immediately,” he said.

Wael and residents were able to leave the building minutes before the tower was blown up and crashed.

“The scene of the bombing of the office when I was on the news was one of the most difficult moments of my life. Despite all the sadness of all the memories of the office where we spent 12 years, I’m still doing my job.

“This memory is about our efforts, our work, our equipment, and the archives that record many memories and scenes,” he added.

After the blast, Wahl said, the team moved to a hotel in western Gaza and was hosted by AFP to report live on Israel’s ongoing attacks on the territory.

“Despite the danger and the hardship, despite the grief and anger and regret of losing our office, we are focused on continuing to cover,” Wahl said.

Visitors to the Al Jazeera office in Gaza.
Wael Al Dahdouh receives visitors who came to Al Jazeera offices to express their condolences after the death of Shireen Abu Akleh [Abdelkahim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

Vael spoke on and off as he received visitors who came to mourn the assassination of Abu Akler.

“The anniversary of our office building coincides with the loss of another news tower in Palestine, the loss of our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh,” he said.

“We plan to wake up again and move to a new office and celebrate on our bombing anniversary. But losing Shireen makes that joy incomplete.”

“The Photographer’s Chief”

Mahmoud Obaid, 65, a senior cameraman nicknamed “The Chief Photographer” in the Gaza Strip, started working for Al Jazeera in 1996.

Since then, Mahmoud said, he has covered many watershed moments with the Al Jazeera team, including the Israeli invasion, the escalation of Palestinian territories and the war.

“Over the years, Al Jazeera offices moved from place to place until we finally settled in al-Jalaa Tower in 2009,” he said.

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

Al Jazeera senior cameraman holding his camera.
Al Jazeera photographer Mahmoud Obaid captured the video of Shireen Abu Akleh’s commemorative photo [Abdelkahim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

The moment they were told of the bombing, Mahmoud said: “We were very nervous and our thoughts were what was the most important thing we would be leaving the office before the bombing.

“We took out no more than 5 percent of the total equipment we lost, including cameras and broadcasting equipment,” Mahmoud said.

“I wish we had at least two hours to evacuate our headquarters and take our equipment, but 45 minutes between notifying us and bombing is simply not enough to do anything.”

Mahmoud said towers bombed during the May offensive had a full day or more than five hours to evacuate, except for the al-Jalaa tower, which was bombed less than an hour after being notified.

“We have felt a lot of instability over the past year – new places, new roads and incomplete equipment, but we got over it and here we are. Nothing can stop us. Israeli occupation is always For us as journalists in all media, but it doesn’t affect our resolve to report the truth.”

‘I was terrified’

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

“Those times, I just came back from reporting on the war wounded Shifa Hospitaluntil news of the tower’s evacuation came,” Yumna said.

“I was terrified, I thought it was one of the safest places in the Gaza Strip. The offices of an American media outlet and Al Jazeera were there, and the rest were residents,” she said.

Yumna, a mother of four, said her heart was with the family living in the 60-unit building.

“I’d rather go down the stairs from the 12th floor than take the elevator to see if I can help any family on the way. There was a very nervous mother on the eighth floor with three children under five and a baby in her arms, she cried I can’t help myself,” she said.

“Despite my own fears, I assured her and took the two children from her and told her to take whatever she wanted from her apartment as soon as possible, not to worry about the children I took.”

Al Jazeera English Channel Reporter
Youmna El Sayed, Al Jazeera English correspondent in Gaza [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

After Yumna walked out of the building, her mother also went downstairs with other families in the tower, and the building was bombed shortly after.

“I was covering the bombing live and it was a very difficult time, the tower collapsed like a cookie,” she said.

A year later, Yumna said she may not have spent as much time at Al Jazeera’s former Gaza headquarters, but she has acutely felt the impact of the bombing on her colleagues, who lost equipment, possessions and memories.

Despite the Israeli attack, she asserted that “nothing can stop them from delivering their message”.

“While I hold non-Palestinian nationality, which allows me to leave Gaza during the war, I prefer to stay and report on what’s going on,” she said.

“The bombing of the Al Jazeera office didn’t deter me, as did our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh a few days ago. These events made me more insistent on getting the message done – no matter what.

“There’s nothing stopping us from delivering the message, except death.”

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