Rashida Tlaib Condemns Netanyahu Amid Israeli Airstrike on Building Housing Media Organizations

Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the "apartheid-in-chief" on the same day the Israeli military conducted an airstrike that hit a Gaza City tower housing the Associated Press and Al Jazeera offices.

Tlaib's comment comes as several Democratic lawmakers and media organizations criticized Israel over the Saturday airstrike that destroyed the Jalaa building. The Israeli military issued a statement that said "fighter jets struck the multi-story building which contained military assets belonging to the intelligence offices of the Hamas terror organization."

But Tlaib accused Netanyahu and the Israeli military of attempting to silence the news media outlets whose staff were evacuated from the building just one hour prior to the missile strike.

"Israel targeting media sources is so the world can't see Israel's war crimes led by the apartheid-in-chief Netanyahu. It's so the world can't see the killing of babies, children and their parents. It's so the world can't see Palestinians being massacred," Tlaib tweeted Saturday morning.

Israel targeting media sources is so the world can't see Israel's war crimes led by the apartheid-in-chief Netanyahu.

It's so the world can't see the killing of babies, children and their parents.

It's so the world can't see Palestinians being massacred. https://t.co/AvDp3IuxUA

— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) May 15, 2021

Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt called the Israeli airstrike "an incredibly disturbing development," noting Saturday that AP journalists and freelancers had been evacuated from the building prior to the attack. The official AJ+ Twitter account that represents Al-Jazeera declared: "Israel gave the media organizations one hour to evacuate, but reportedly refused to allow journalists to take their equipment. Targeting journalists is a war crime."

Al Jazeera journalists and employees said the Israel military warned the media outlet to leave the building prior to the attack, but workers were not allowed to bring any of their equipment.

"Israel has given a 'warning' that it will bomb the building that houses Al Jazeera offices and other international media channels in Gaza City in one hour...our colleagues have already evacuated," Al-Jazeera English producer Linah Alsaafin tweeted Saturday.

"Al Jazeera broadcasted live the phone call (on speaker) between Israel intelligence officer and Abu Husam, the owner of the Jalaa building. The owner is telling the Israeli to give the media time to evacuate their equipment from the building, the officer said no," Alsaafin continued, citing the destruction of the Gaza tower that housed both Al Jazeera and the Associated Press offices.

Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar shared Tlaib's Saturday tweet as well as videos showing the aftermath of the Israeli bombing. Omar also shared a critical observation from journalist Antoun Issa.

"When you spend your years following Israel's wars, the shock of its brutality wears off. They've bombed UN compounds, refugee camps, schools, hospitals, ambulances, power stations. What's a media building to add to Israel's long list of crimes against humanity?" Issa said, sharing a video of the tower collapsing.

Many pro-Israel and right-wing figures rebuked Tlaib's criticism of Israel and Netanyahu, including Israeli human rights attorney Arsen Ostrovsky who replied to her Saturday condemnation: "No, we're targeting them because they are Hamas terrorists bases, from which they are launching rockets at Israel. Now stop shilling for Hamas, you terror apologist!"

Netanyahu, an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, shared a dramatic video clip Thursday on Twitter that was produced by the Israeli Defense Forces. The video showed Gaza bombings and asked viewers: "Imagine if it was Washington. Imagine if it was Paris. Imagine if it was London." The video went on to show bombing attacks in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.

Newsweek reached out to Israeli representatives in Washington as well as Tlaib's congressional offices for additional comments.

Tlaib Calls to Impeach Trump
Rep. Rashida Tlaib D-MI joins activists asking for impeachment of US President Trump as they gather on Capitol Hill on September 23, 2019 in Washington,DC. - The demonstration and press event was to demand the House of Representatives to take urgent and immediate action towards impeaching US President Donald Trump. Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images