Blinken Hasn’t Seen Any Evidence on AP Gaza Building Strike
WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday he hasn’t yet seen any evidence supporting Israel’s claim that Hamas operated in a Gaza building housing The Associated Press and other media outlets that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike. Blinken said he has pressed Israel for justification.
Blinken spoke at a news conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, a day after The Associated Press’ top editor called for an independent investigation into the Israeli airstrike over the weekend that targeted and destroyed a Gaza City building housing the AP, broadcaster Al-Jazeera and other media, saying the public deserves to know the facts.
Israel destroyed a building housing The Associated Press and Al Jazeera and claimed that Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office.
Separately, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel’s bombing of a building housing the media organizations as a possible war crime.
Sally Buzbee, AP’s executive editor, said that the Israeli government has yet to provide clear evidence supporting its attack, which leveled the 12-story al-Jalaa tower.
The Israeli military, which gave AP journalists and other tenants about an hour to evacuate, claimed Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office and weapons development. Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said Israel was compiling evidence for the U.S. but declined to commit to providing it within the next two days.
Blinken said he personally has not seen any Israeli evidence of Hamas operating in the building and has asked Israel for justification for the strike.
“Shortly after the strike we did request additional details regarding the justification for it,” Blinken said from Copenhagen, Denmark. He declined to discuss specific intelligence, saying he “will leave it to others to characterize if any information has been shared and our assessment that information.”
But he said, “I have not seen any information provided.”
On Sunday, Conricus, the Israeli military spokesman said, “We’re in the middle of fighting. That’s in process and I’m sure in due time that information will be presented.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would share any evidence of Hamas’ presence in the targeted building through intelligence channels. But neither the White House nor the State Department would say if any American official had seen it.
Buzbee said the AP has had offices in al-Jalaa tower for 15 years and never was informed or had any indication that Hamas might be in the building. She said the facts must be laid out.
“We are in a conflict situation,” Buzbee said. “We do not take sides in that conflict. We heard Israelis say they have evidence; we don’t know what that evidence is.”
“We think it’s appropriate at this point for there to be an independent look at what happened yesterday — an independent investigation,” she added.
In remarks Sunday, Netanyahu repeated Israel’s claim that the building housed an intelligence office of Hamas. Asked if he had relayed supporting evidence of that in a call with President Joe Biden on Saturday, Netanyahu said that “we pass it through our intelligence people.”
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, known by its French acronym RSF, said in a letter to the court’s chief prosecutor that the offices of 23 international and local media organizations have been destroyed over the past six days.
RSF said it had strong reason to believe that the Israeli military’s “intentional targeting of media organizations and intentional destruction of their equipment” could violate one of the court’s statutes. It said the attacks serve “to reduce, if not neutralize, the media’s capacity to inform the public.”
RSF asked the international court, based in the Dutch city of The Hague, to include the recent attacks in a war crimes probe opened in March into Israel’s practices in Palestinian territories.
Buzbee said the AP journalists were “rattled” after the airstrike but are doing fine and reporting the news. She expressed concern about the impact on news coverage.
“This does impact the world’s right to know what is happening on both sides of the conflict in real time,” she said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone Saturday with AP’s president and CEO, Gary Pruitt. The State Department said Blinken offered “his unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world and noted the indispensability of their reporting in conflict zones.”
Buzbee and Conricus spoke on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” and Netanyahu was on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
In The News
WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday to discuss the United States' new strategic... Read More
WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday to discuss the United States' new strategic partnership with the U.K. and Australia. Australia is set to construct eight nuclear-powered submarines through its alliance with the U.S. and the U.K., dashing the country's... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Biden administration announced Monday that it will ease restrictions on international travelers coming to the U.S. starting... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Biden administration announced Monday that it will ease restrictions on international travelers coming to the U.S. starting in early November, requiring them to be fully vaccinated and show proof of vaccination before boarding a U.S. bound plane. The new policy also includes a... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden goes before the United Nations this week eager to make the case for the... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden goes before the United Nations this week eager to make the case for the world to act with haste against the coronavirus, climate change and human rights abuses. His pitch for greater global partnership comes at a moment when allies... Read More
The United States has threatened to issue new sanctions against members of the Tigray conflict in northwestern Ethiopia. The conflict,... Read More
The United States has threatened to issue new sanctions against members of the Tigray conflict in northwestern Ethiopia. The conflict, which has continued to deteriorate the stability of the region, has grown since last November. White House officials have said that the parties to the conflict... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration began notifying governors and state refugee coordinators across the country about how many Afghan... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration began notifying governors and state refugee coordinators across the country about how many Afghan evacuees from among the first group of nearly 37,000 arrivals are slated to be resettled in their states. California is projected to take more arrivals than... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Twenty years after the Twin Towers collapsed in flamesand smoke, Americans are reflecting on the lessons they say... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Twenty years after the Twin Towers collapsed in flamesand smoke, Americans are reflecting on the lessons they say they’ve learned, in particular on the legacy of the U.S. foreign policy triggered by 9/11. John Allen, president of the Brookings Institution and a former four-star... Read More