Israeli aircraft struck crowded areas in the Gaza Strip and killed a senior terrorist with a missile strike on a media center Monday, driving up the Palestinian death toll to 100, as Israel broadened its targets in the six-day-old offensive meant to quell Hamas rocket fire on Israel.
In Monday's violence, an Israeli airstrike on a high-rise building in Gaza City killed Ramez Harb, a senior figure in Islamic Jihad's military wing, the Al Quds Brigades, the group said in a text message to reporters. A number of foreign and local news organizations have offices in the building, which was also struck on Sunday. A passer-by was also killed, medics said.
Thick black smoke rose from the building. Paramedics said several people were wounded.
The Israeli military said the attacks were pinpoint strikes on communication devices located on the buildings' roofs, and accused the Islamist group of using reporters as human shields to try and protect their operations.
Britain's Sky News, German ARD, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya, Beirut-based al Quds television and other broadcasters operate from the two buildings, which are a block apart. One employee from al Quds TV lost his leg in the early morning strike.
Media center after bombing (Photo: EPA)
The attack came on the fifth day of heavy air strikes on the coastal enclave which Israel says are needed to halt repeated militant rocket launches into its territory.
The Foreign Press Association covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories issued a statement in which it expressed concern over the bombings and quoted a UN Security Council resolution that condemned attacks against journalists.
Israeli military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich denied that journalists were the target of the strike.
"Hamas took a civilian building and used it for its own needs. So the journalists ... were serving as human shields for Hamas," she said.
Abdel-Ghani Jaber, director of a private Palestinian media production company, said two of his employees were wounded when the blast shattered the windows of his office.
"I was asleep when it happened ... I jumped from the mattress because it sounded so near," Jaber said, "I wanted to look out the window when someone told me the building was being bombed and I started to run. As I ran a second missile hit just above our floor and damaged a room in my office."
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