Hamas TV station captures its own final moments on air before Israeli bombing

Host cuts guest mid-interview to evacuate as booms are heard overhead — the result of IDF warning shots — and panicked shouting is heard outside the studio

A host on Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV shortly before the station's building was destroyed in an Israeli strike, November 12, 2018 (screen capture)
A host on Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV shortly before the station's building was destroyed in an Israeli strike, November 12, 2018 (screen capture)

As Israeli aircraft carried out multiple air raids in the Gaza Strip Monday night in response to the launching of hundreds of rockets at Israeli communities, one of the targets destroyed by IAF munitions was the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV headquarters in Gaza City.

But to limit casualties at the non-military site, the army fired several warning missiles at the building’s roof before later bombing it. The practice, frequently referred to as a “knock on the roof,” uses missiles armed with very little explosive material to inform occupants that a strike is imminent and give them a chance to evacuate.

The moments those warning missiles hit the Al-Aqsa TV building were caught on camera, during a live discussion on the cross-border flareup with Israel. The video has been provided courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch.

As Hamas official Rafiq Abu Hani says, “The Palestinian resistance’s capability is clear in the Gaza Strip,” several muffled booms are heard, followed by panicked shouting outside the studio.

As Abu Hani continues to tout Hamas achievement, the host cuts him off.

“Apparently there are certain events, developments on the ground. Apparently there is a new Zionist attack against the Gaza Strip,” he says. Growing increasingly concerned, he adds: “I don’t know. I’m waiting for a signal from the editing room and from the control room. If there are any developments, they should notify us right now.”

He then moves to end the broadcast in order to evacuate, adding “one last word: The last word is always the word of the Palestinian resistance. Many greetings to these young people who always cared to defend our people…”

The broadcast freezes mid-sentence. The screen then cuts to black.

No one was hurt in the Israeli strike, which demolished the building utterly. Palestinian media said broadcasts resumed from a different location not long afterward.

The IDF confirmed that it destroyed the structure. “This is an attack on a central government property for Hamas, which was conducted as part of additional attacks that the IDF carried out and as a response to the terror attack that the Hamas terror group is leading against Israeli citizens,” the army said.

Israel also bombed the building in December 2008, during the first war to break out in Gaza in the wake of the 2005 disengagement.

On Monday and Tuesday Palestinian terrorists in the Strip fired some 400 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli cities and towns along the border, killing at least one person and wounding dozens. IDF retaliatory strikes on around 160 terror targets killed seven Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Strip.

Fire and smoke billow following Israeli air strikes targeting Hamas infrastructure in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, near the border with Egypt, on November 12, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

The rocket barrages came after an IDF special operations officer was killed Sunday in an undercover operation in Gaza gone awry that also killed seven Palestinian gunmen.

Hamas denounced the demolition of Al-Aqsa TV headquarters.

“The occupation’s targeting of the station’s headquarters is barbaric and barefaced aggression,” the terror group said in a statement, according to the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center. “It reflects the enemy’s criminal mindset and is an attack on every free voice seeking to expose the enemy’s crimes, terrorism and violations at the expense of Gaza.”

The IDF said that Al-Aqsa TV was “used by [Hamas] for military activities, including sending messages to terrorist operatives in the West Bank, calls for terror attacks and instructions on how to commit them.”

The outlet was recognized as a terror group by the United States in 2010.

The army said the outlet also broadcasts “incitement against the State of Israel and its citizens.”

Al-Aqsa TV reporters have frequently praised violent attacks on Israelis and rocket attacks on the Jewish state.

AP, Adam Rasgon and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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