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UN secretary general 'deeply disturbed' by Israeli strike on high rise that housed media outlets

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he is “deeply disturbed” by the Israeli airstrike Saturday that destroyed a 12-storey Gaza City building, according to a spokesman for the top international official. 

Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said in comments shared with The Hill that Guterres was “deeply disturbed by the destruction by an Israeli airstrike today of a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed the offices of several international media organizations as well as residential apartments.” 

The strike, carried out by Israel earlier Saturday leveled a building that housed multiple news outlets including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera as well as apartments.

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The owner of the building that was demolished said he had received a call from the IDF warning that the building would be targeted, after which he said he had about an hour to order everyone to evacuate. 

The strike was part of the ongoing violence that has escalated over the past week between Israel and Hamas. 

Dujarric added the secretary-general is also “dismayed by the increasing number of civilian casualties, including the death of ten members of the same family, including children, as a result of an Israeli airstrike last night in the al-Shati camp in Gaza."

"The Secretary-General reminds all sides that any indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures violates international law and must be avoided at all costs," Dujarric added. 

The statements, which were also shared with The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse, come ahead of a planned UN Security Council meeting Sunday where leaders are expected to discuss the days of back-and-forth attacks between Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas. 

The violence marks some of the worst fighting in the area since Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas, a group considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. 

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AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement following the building's collapse that the news outlet was "shocked and horrified" that the military would target the building. 

Al Jazeera also issued a statement condemning the bombing “in the strongest possible terms,” adding it viewed the attack as a “clear act to stop journalists from conducting their sacred duty to inform the world and report events on the ground.”

The IDF defended its airstrikes on buildings in Gaza, arguing that Hamas had "placed military assets" inside high-rise buildings for intelligence gathering and communications. 

The strike on the media building, Israel’s overall ramped-up military offensive, and the thousands of rockets fired by Hamas over the past week have prompted increased concerns among members of the international community. 

President Biden in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE on Saturday “raised concerns” about the safety of journalists following the day’s attack, while he also "reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.”