Doha (AFP)

The director of Al-Jazeera denounced a "war crime" and an attempt to "silence the media" after the Israeli army on Saturday bombed the building housing the Qatari television station and 'other press groups.

Since Monday, Israel has been bombarding the Palestinian enclave controlled by the Islamist movement Hamas, which launches rockets at the Hebrew state in retaliation for the violent crackdown on Palestinian protesters in East Jerusalem last weekend and Monday.

In Gaza, an overcrowded territory under Israeli blockade, the Palestinian authorities have reported 139 dead, including 39 children, and some 1,000 injured in the bombings.

"The destruction of the offices of Al-Jazeera and those of other media in the Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza is a flagrant violation of human rights and is considered internationally a war crime", denounced Mostafa Souag, the director. acting general of the Qatari group.

"The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza," he said.

Al-Jazeera news director Assef Hamidi told AFP that the channel will "take all measures to prosecute Israel," adding that "the most important response (was) to continue covering the events".

Israel wants to "silence the media that see, document and tell the truth about what is happening," also blasted the director of the office of Al-Jazeera in the Palestinian Territories and Israel, Walid al-Omari.

AFP journalists saw the 13-story tower, which also hosts the US Associated Press (AP) news agency, being sprayed by several missiles.

AP said she was "shocked and horrified".

"We narrowly avoided terrible loss of life. About ten journalists and AP freelancers were in the building and luckily we were able to evacuate them in time," the agency boss said in a statement. , Gary Pruitt.

"The world will be less informed about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today," he lamented.

The White House for its part assured having "told the Israelis directly that guaranteeing the safety of journalists and independent media was a responsibility of paramount importance," according to a tweet from its spokesperson Jen Psaki.

The IDF said Hamas military equipment was in the building where it said the media were being used as "human shields."

She claimed to have warned "civilians" inside beforehand.

Since the start of the week, more than 2,300 rockets have been launched into Israel from Gaza by Palestinian armed groups, killing ten people, including a child, and injuring more than 560.

The most important news channel in the Arab world, Al-Jazeera is regularly targeted by authoritarian regimes in the Middle East where its correspondents cover wars and popular uprisings.

The powerful media group financed by Qatar is accused by its detractors of sympathy towards Islamist movements to which Doha is close.

© 2021 AFP