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Biden calls Netanyahu and Abbas as anger grows at Israel over airstrike on journalists’ tower

·2-min read
The moment an Israeli airstrike hit the al Jaala tower in Gaza City (AFP via Getty Images)
The moment an Israeli airstrike hit the al Jaala tower in Gaza City (AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden telephoned Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday amid more bloodshed — and anger at the Israeli bombing of a tower housing media organisations including Associated Press and Al-Jazeera.

The White House said Mr Biden told the Israeli prime minister Netanyahu that he continued to support Israel’s right to defend itself, but expressed concern at the tower-block strike and called for journalists to be protected.

The UN Security Council will meet on Sunday to discuss the situation, while Biden’s envoy is in the region seeking “calm.”

In the latest deaths, 10 members of one family were killed by an Israeli air strike at a refugee camp west of Gaza City that left a five-month-old baby as the only survivor.

Early on Sunday, Israel bombed the home of Hamas’s chief in Gaza while militants fired rocket barrages at Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera said the destruction of the 12-story al-Jalaa tower in Gaza City was a “blatant violation of human rights and is internationally considered a war crime”.

AP journalists and other tenants were safely evacuated after the Israeli military warned of an imminent strike

Labour’s shadow foreign minister Lisa Nandy said: “The targeting of media offices in Gaza by Israeli air strikes is completely unacceptable. Press freedom is a fundamental right.”

Israel said Hamas was operating inside the building, without providing evidence.

"The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today," AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said.

"The targeting of news organizations is completely unacceptable, even during an armed conflict. It represents a gross violation of human rights and internationally agreed norms," Barbara Trionfi, the executive director of the International Press Institute, said.

AP and Reuters contributed to this report.

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