Twenty-one media outlets were reportedly destroyed this week as Israel pummeled Gaza with airstrikes that obliterated two tower blocks.
The Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have been blamed for the vast majority of deaths in the rapidly worsening conflict. According to the Associated Press, 83 Palestinians—including 17 children—have now been killed, and seven people have been reported dead in Israel. Violence broke out overnight with multiple videos showing rival Arab and Jewish mobs dragging people out of their cars and attacking them on the streets.
The non-profit Reporters Without Borders said in a statement that it believes 21 media outlets had their offices razed when Israeli airstrikes hit two tower blocks in Gaza City. The Al-Jawhara Tower was said to be home to 14 media outlets, and the larger Al-Shorouk Tower housed seven. Both were destroyed in this week’s Israeli strikes, with one falling on live television on Wednesday.
The Israel Defense Force justified its strikes by claiming it was mere coincidence that the media offices had been obliterated as they were targeting weapons stores that were “hidden inside civilian buildings.”
Reporters Without Borders also stated that seven journalists were hit by rubber bullets fired by Israeli troops on Sunday, and a video showed a Palestinian freelancer being attacked by Israeli cops.
“Palestinian journalists, who were already struggling to work in the conditions imposed by the Israeli authorities, are once again on the front line when tension erupts,” said Reporters Without Border in a Thursday statement. “We urge the Israeli authorities to desist from this disproportionate use of forces against Palestinian reporters, who should on no account be treated as if they were parties to the conflict.”
Israeli airstrikes continued in Gaza overnight Thursday, while Gaza militants shot around 100 rockets into Israel. As the conflict worsens, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines have canceled flights to Israel, and train travel between Tel Aviv and Lod has been temporarily suspended, according to the Jerusalem Post. Meanwhile, the Israeli military has started packing the Gaza border with ground troops.
The violence has also spilled onto the streets, with civilian mobs attacking both Arabs and Jews in cities across Israel. According to Haaretz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday he may deploy troops to clamp down on the mob violence in the nation’s cities, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he’s ordered a massive police presence to move in and attempt to “cool off” the most volatile neighborhoods.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called for an immediate end to the “madness” of street violence, reportedly saying, “We are endangered by rockets that are being launched at our citizens and streets, and we are busying ourselves with a senseless civil war among ourselves.”
However, there is little sign of the violence abating. Egyptian negotiators held fresh in-person talks with Hamas leaders in Gaza and Israeli officials in Tel Aviv on Thursday, but no progress has been reported.
In statements Thursday, a spokesman for Hamas’ military warned Israel, “Our conflict will reach you whenever you turn any aggression against our people.” Netanyahu said, “It will take more time, but... with great firmness, we will achieve our goal to restore peace to the State of Israel.”