Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike on a building on May 17 2021 in Gaza City, Gaza. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/FATIMA SHBAIR
Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike on a building on May 17 2021 in Gaza City, Gaza. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/FATIMA SHBAIR

Did the Israeli commanders who called in the airstrike on the al-Jalaa building in Gaza City have a sense of biblical pre-destiny infusing their actions? Or did the irony of destroying a modern-day Tower of Babel sail over their heads like a small chunk of rocket-blasted concrete?

The genesis of the strike is so full of weirdness that it is difficult to know where to begin.

Israel said the building was targeted because Hamas had offices there.

Because heavyweight media organisations the Associated Press and Al Jazeera also had offices in the al-Jalaa, the Israeli commanders called up the bureaus and told them the strike was coming and that they had an hour to evacuate.

If there was supposed to be an element of surprise in the attack, the sight and sound of panicked inhabitants pouring down the stairs carrying cameras, laptops, children and documents would surely have alerted anybody that something was amiss.

There is no record of anyone stopping on any floors allegedly occupied by Hamas to warn them of the impending raid. Then again, that anyone from Hamas had offices in the building was news to anyone else there.

It’s also not as if Hamas would not have anywhere else to go, for there are many other mansions in Gaza City.

About 200 Palestinians have been killed in the week of mayhem in Gaza. Attacking two media houses looks like Israel is trying to kill the story too.

The mounting blowback shows it was a very bad idea. For as the old saying goes, don’t shoot the messenger.

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