Gaza journalists have described their dash for safety before their headquarters were blasted apart in Israeli airstrikes yesterday.
Footage shows reporters and camera staff from Associated Press cobbling together equipment as they rushed leave the building they shared with several other media outlets including Al Jazeera.
They had been given an hour to evacuate by the Israeli military and moments after packing away their desks, the 11-storey al-Jala tower block collapsed after being peppered with Israeli missiles.
AP reports military officials had claimed the al-Jala building was a legitimate target, containing Hamas military offices.
They had claimed the Hamas military were using media staff as “human shields” but AP says it did not provide evidence for the claims.
Al Jazeera staff say in the frantic hour to evacuate just one lift was working in the tower block, which also contained about 60 apartments.
Children and the elderly were piled into lifts so staff instead “made a dash for the stairs”.
“We were all running down the stairs and whoever could help children took them down,” freelance journalist Youmna al-Sayed said.
“I myself helped two children of the residents there and I took them downstairs – everyone was just running quickly.”
Fearing the loss of a lifetime of work, some reporters pleaded with officers for more time to gather equipment but were ordered to leave the area.
AP journalist Fares Akram was among those who witnessed the tower collapse as they drove away from the city and says it appeared to crumble as easily as “potato chips”.
“Then the smoke and dust enveloped everything. The sky rumbled. And the building that was home to some people, an office to others and both to me disappeared in a shroud of dust,” he said.
Despite the Israeli military’s claims, staff from several media outlets deny witnessing any suspicious activity in the building.
“We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” AP said in a statement.
The AP has condemned the attack, and asked Israel to put forward evidence to back its claims.
At least three Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes overnight across the coastal enclave and many were injured as the sounds of heavy bombardment roared through the night.
At least 148 people have been killed in Gaza since the violence began on Monday, including 41 children, health officials said. Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late on Saturday that Israel was “still in the midst of this operation, it is still not over and this operation will continue as long as necessary”.