Israeli strike levels headquarters of Hamas-affiliated TV station in Gaza
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Israeli strike levels headquarters of Hamas-affiliated TV station in Gaza

IDF says Al-Aqsa TV used for military activities, including sending messages to terror operatives; Islamic Jihad condemns attack

A ball of fire above the building housing the Hamas-run television station al-Aqsa TV in the Gaza Strip during an Israeli air strike, on November 12, 2018.  (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
A ball of fire above the building housing the Hamas-run television station al-Aqsa TV in the Gaza Strip during an Israeli air strike, on November 12, 2018. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Israeli aircraft bombarded the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV headquarters in Gaza City on Monday evening, destroying it, Palestinian news outlets said and video from the enclave showed.

Israeli aircraft first fired a “warning missile” at the multi-story building, allowing people to leave the site, before destroying it with a number of additional missiles, the reports said.

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.

On Monday, armed groups in Gaza fired more then 300 rockets at southern Israel, according to the IDF, some of which scored direct hits on homes, causing multiple injuries. Additionally, an Israeli soldier was critically injured when operatives launched an anti-tank missile at a bus near the Gaza border.

In response, the Israeli military targeted dozens of sites in the Strip, including the Al-Aqsa TV building.

After the warning shots were fired, the station halted its programming and broadcast a still image of its logo. Shortly thereafter, three loud explosions were heard and the screen turned black.

The explosions illuminated the night sky.

Workers evacuated the building after the warning missile, and it was not immediately clear whether there were any casualties.

When Israel intends to destroy a building, it often fires warning shots first. The action, frequently referred to as a “knock on the roof,” is designed to inform occupants that a strike is imminent and give them a chance to evacuate.

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

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.”

A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad terror group condemned the destruction of the Al-Aqsa TV building, calling it “a dangerous violation.”

A picture taken on November 12, 2018, shows smoke rising above the building housing the Hamas-run television station al-Aqsa TV in the Gaza Strip during an Israeli air strike. (Mahmud Hams / AFP)

“The bombardment and destruction of Al-Aqsa TV and the wrecking of several citizens’ homes is a dangerous violation and will lead to the expanding of the resistance’s response,” Daoud Shehab said, according to the Islamic Jihad-affiliated Palestine Today.

At least two Palestinian homes in Gaza were hit by Israeli airstrikes on Monday, according to a number of Palestinian news outlets, along with a number of Hamas and Islamic Jihad positions.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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