News organizations demanded an explanation for an Israeli airstrike that targeted and destroyed a building in Gaza City that housed the offices of The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera, and other news organizations.
After the Israeli military warned of an impending strike, AP journalists and other tenants were safely evacuated from the 12-story al-Jalaa tower.
Within an hour, three heavy missiles struck the structure, disrupting coverage of the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel.
At least 145 people have been killed in Gaza and eight in Israel since the fighting began on Monday night.
"As a result of today's events, the world will know less about what is happening in Gaza," AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said.
He stated that the American news organization was requesting information from the Israeli government and communicating with the US State Department.
Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of Al Jazeera Media Network, described the strike as a "war crime" and a "clear act" aimed at preventing journalists from covering the conflict.
Kuwaiti state television also had an office in the now-demolished Gaza City structure.
"The targeting of news organizations, even during times of armed conflict, is wholly unacceptable. It is a flagrant violation of human rights and internationally recognized standards "Barbara Trionfi, the International Press Institute's executive director, stated.
The military responded in a standard Israeli fashion, claiming that Hamas was operating inside the structure and accusing the militant group of using journalists as human shields.
However, it provided no evidence to support the assertions.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, claimed that Hamas used the building for military intelligence and weapon development. He stated that the militant group used a "highly advanced technological tool" in the fight that was "within or on the building."
Conricus, however, stated that he could not provide evidence to substantiate the claims without jeopardizing intelligence efforts.
"I believe it is a legitimate request for additional information, and I will make every effort to provide it," he added.
According to some proponents of press freedom, the strike raised suspicions that Israel was attempting to obstruct coverage of the conflict. The Committee to Protect Journalists, headquartered in New York, demanded that Israel "provide a detailed and documented justification" for the strike.
"This latest attack on a building that Israel has long recognized as housing international media raises the possibility that the Israel Defense Forces are deliberately targeting media facilities in order to disrupt coverage of Gaza's human suffering," the group's executive director, Joel Simon, said in a statement.
The bombing came in response to media outrage over an Israeli military statement that led some news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, to report early Friday that Israel had launched a ground invasion of Gaza.
Israeli military analysts asserted that the media had been manipulated to lure Hamas militants into a lethal trap.
Conricus denied that the military acted maliciously when it falsely tweeted on Friday that ground forces were engaged in Gaza, describing it as a "honest mistake."
The AP concluded there was no ground incursion and did not report one based on its analysis of the army's statement, phone calls to military officials, and on-the-ground reporting in Gaza.
The strike on a building known to house offices of international news organizations came as a surprise to reporters who had previously felt relatively safe in that location.
"Now, one understands the plight of those whose homes have been destroyed by such air attacks," Al-Jazeera producer Safwat al-Kahlout told the broadcaster on Saturday. "I was at the Gaza bureau when the evacuation warning came."
"It's extremely difficult to wake up one day and discover that your office is gone, along with all the career experiences and memories."
For 15 years, AP's offices on the top floor and roof terrace of the now-destroyed building served as a prime location for covering Gaza's fighting.
This week, the news agency's camera provided live coverage 24 hours a day as Hamas rockets arced toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes pounded the city.
Only a day before the bombing, Associated Press correspondent Fares Akram wrote in a personal story that the AP office was the only place in Gaza where he felt "somewhat safe."
"Because the Israeli military has the high-coordinates, rise's it's less likely that a bomb will bring it down," Mr Akram wrote.
Mr Akram tweeted the following day about fleeing the building and watching it crumble from afar.
PEN America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of literature and free expression, stated on Saturday that the only reason the world is aware of the ongoing conflict between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel is because of the "tireless, indefatigable work of journalists risking their lives to inform the world."
"The resulting devastation will impair professional journalists' ability to do their job of documenting a volatile, complex conflict at a critical time," the organization stated.
Building in Gaza housing media outlets destroyed by targeted Israeli military strike.
A building that has housed international media offices including Al Jazeera’s in the Gaza Strip was hit by an Israeli air strike that totally demolished the structure.