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Watch: Israeli airstrike levels 12-story building in Gaza City

Aug. 24, 2014 10:30 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 26, 2014 10:12 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An Israeli airstrike on Saturday evening leveled a 12-story apartment building in the heart of Gaza City, wounding at least 18 people, 10 of them children, and leaving dozens of Palestinian families homeless.

Residents in the 12-story Zafer 4 building were called by the Israeli military 10 minutes before the attack and told to evacuate, sparking a stampede as dozens of people ran down to the street, neighbors said.

Two missiles then slammed into the complex, reducing it to a pile of dusty rubble and sparking panic in the area as the tower collapsed on top of itself amid a massive cloud of smoke and debris, witnesses said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP a Hamas military operations room had been located in the building.

Veiled women wept as they stumbled down the street, cradling young children.

"They called some residents and said 'evacuate, the tower will be shelled'. We escaped to my neighbor and in minutes they destroyed it," said Sanaa Joda, who lived in the building.

A video from Shehab News Agency that could not be verified appeared to show the destruction of the building from a number of angles.

Dozens of families were said to live in the building, adding to the 460,000 people already displaced by the war in Gaza -- more than a quarter of the enclave's 1.8 million population.

The United Nations estimated on Friday that around 103,000 people have been left homeless in the besieged coastal enclave, as around 17,000 homes have been completely destroyed or severely damaged.

AFP contributed to this report.
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