Jerusalem24 – In Israel’s current bombing campaign a lot of the towers that Gaza is known for. Among the towers that have been bombed include the Shorouq and Jala’a Towers, both of which contain the offices of several media outlets; including the offices of the Al-Jazeera and the Associated Press (AP).
The AP has been in the building for 15 years. AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement, regarding Israeli claims that the building was used by Hamas “This is something we actively check to the best of our ability.” He also added that, “we would never put our journalists at risk.” The news agency’s cameras from its top floor office and roof terrace offered 24-hour live shots as rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes landed on the city and its surroundings.
Abdul Salaam Abu Askar, who runs a media production company and had offices in the Shorouq Tower that was bombed lost a lot in the bombing of the building. One of his greatest laments was the loss of his archive, which was made up of thousands of cassette tapes, containing thousands if not millions of hours of footage. “The archive was about 30 years of work,” said Abu Askar in a teary voice during a phone call with Jerusalem24. He added that, “as someone from Gaza; I have never heard that Hamas has an office in the building.” Abu Askar had a history with the building. He had lived in the tower starting in 1998, and left it in 2014. “We were forced to leave it, because in the previous wars the building was hit twice,” he said. “We then moved to another building and the apartment then became a storage unit for the company.”
As the tower was lost, the archives Abu Askar held onto for so many years were also lost. “Two years ago, my brother passed away and a year ago my mother passed. I didn’t cry then as much as I cried over the tower,” he told Jerusalem24. “Inside it was all the archived footage and all my old equipment,” he also added that “my dearest memories were in there.” Abu Askar witnessed the bombing of the tower on television. He saw how the tower, under the brunt of Israeli missiles exploded and then collapsed.
The day after, Abu Askar received a most interesting phone call. Abu Askar describes the phone call from the mysterious number, “A young man called, I don’t know him. But he told me that friends of mine in Gaza gave him my number.” Breathing heavily over the phone, he continued; “He explained to me that he found an old photograph album that belongs to me. An Album with old photographs of my friends, family and colleagues.” The album had the only memories that survived the Israeli bombing of the Shorouq Tower.
“You can only imagine the feelings I had.”
– Abdul Salam Abu Askar
Abu Askar spoke about his feelings and his memories of Gaza, living in Ramallah seeing the destruction through the screen of his television. “It is clear what is happening, the targeting of the Jawhar tower the first time, and the the targeting of the Shorouq and Jala’a towers. It seems that one of the Israeli goals is to keep the picture from leaving Gaza,” says Abu Askar. He added that, “The Jala’a tower not only has one of the world’s most important news agencies, the AP and al-Jazeera; but also had banks, clinics and lawyer’s offices.” He repeated, “as a son of Gaza I never have heard that Hamas has any office in the building.”
The executive editor of the Associated Press, Sally Buzbee, has called for an independent investigation into the bombing of the Jala’a tower. She stated that her organization has yet to see any evidence from Israeli officials to justify the bombing which destroyed the 12 story tower last Saturday.