Israeli Strike on ‘Cultural Center’ Used for ‘Military Purposes’

The Said Al-Mishal building served both artists and Hamas extremists
August 11, 2018 Updated: August 11, 2018

An Egyptian-brokered truce has ended a two-day wave of rocket barrages and air strikes between Israel and Gaza that saw the obliteration by Israeli forces of a building that was both a treasured “cultural center” and a space used by Hamas “for military purposes.”

The five-story building was officially known as the Said Al-Mishal Foundation for Culture And Science in Gaza.

Footage posted by Sadeel Media shows an incoming missile hitting the structure and bringing it down to the ground.

According to Ayman Qwaider, the Arabic Language Community Facilitator at the Enabling Education Network, the center “provided spaces for artists, theatre actors, singers to explore their potentials amidst devastating realities of Gaza.”

A Cultural Center Used “For Military Purposes”

The building was also allegedly used by Hamas–officially considered a terrorist organization by a number of countries including Israel, the US, Canada, and the EU–”for military purposes.”

“Earlier today, IDF fighter jets targeted a 5-story building in Rimal, northern Gaza. Hamas‘ interior security forces used the building for military purposes,” the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said on Twitter.

Palestinians stand around the rubble of a building bombed by Israeli forces in retaliation to multiple missile attacks on Israel by Hamas terrorists
Palestinians gather around the rubble of the Said Al-Mishal building after it was bombed by an Israeli aircraft, in Gaza City on Aug. 9, 2018. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

“The building served as the office of active unit members,” said the IDF.

“A significant part of the unit’s members are also Hamas military operatives.”

“The strike was carried out in response to the rockets Hamas fired at Israel, one of which was fired at the city of Be’er Sheva, which is more than 24 miles from Gaza,” the IDF said.

With the destruction of building, and accompanying air strikes on the Gaza Strip, Israel has dealt Hamas a “severe blow,” an unnamed diplomatic official told the Times of Israel on Thursday, shortly after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave reached the furthest into Israeli territory since the 2014 war.

“Hamas has suffered a severe blow,” the official said. “Israel will continue to act with force.”

Drone footage from Sadeel Media shows the rubble from the building in the aftermath of the airstrike.

Following the strike, the Facebook page of the Said Al-Mishal center confirmed that the building had been toppled.

Later they posted footage of a group of musicians performing in front of the rubble.

Balance of Casualties

A pregnant Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child were killed in the Israeli attacks overnight on Aug. 8, as was a Hamas extremist, Gaza medical officials said.

The Israeli military reported that seven people were wounded by Palestinian rockets and mortars that hit southern Israel, adding that the Iron Dome aerial defense system had intercepted more than 30 projectiles.

The Israeli military said its aircraft had struck more than 150 Hamas targets.

The U.S. State Department condemned the missile attacks that targeted Israel.

“We’ve seen reports that 180 or so rocket attacks have taken place, shot from Gaza into Israel, and we fully support Israel’s right to defend itself and to take actions to prevent provocations of that nature,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

“Devastating Consequences”

Egypt and the United Nations have been trying to mediate a comprehensive cease-fire to prevent an escalation in fighting and to ease the deep economic hardship in Gaza, a narrow strip of land that is home to 2 million Palestinians.

Israel captured Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war but withdrew in 2005, while holding on to most of the separate West Bank, where Palestinians have limited self-rule.

For more than a decade Gaza has been controlled by Hamas under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has collapsed its economy, creating what the World Bank has described as a humanitarian crisis with shortages of water, electricity, and medicine.

Israel says it has no choice but to enforce its blockade to defend itself against Hamas, which calls for Israel’s destruction and has used Gaza as a base for missile attacks.

Yuval Steinitz, a member of Netanyahu’s security cabinet, told Israel Radio earlier that Israel was “not eager for war” but would make no concessions to Hamas.

U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said the United Nations had engaged with Egypt in an “unprecedented effort” to avoid serious conflict, but “the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people.”

Reuters contributed to this report