- Israeli airstrikes destroyed a media building in Gaza housing the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.
- Israel said the building also contained military intelligence assets for the militant group Hamas.
- But AP said they had “no indication” Hamas used the building and called on Israel to offer evidence.
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The Associated Press pushed back Saturday on the Israeli government’s claims that the militant group Hamas was operating in the media building in Gaza destroyed in an airstrike earlier that day.
The Al-Jalaa tower was home to several international media organizations, including AP and Al Jazeera, which were notified an hour before the building was flattened.
The Israeli Defense Forces released a statement saying the high-rise was being used by Hamas military intelligence, but AP said they had “no indication” Hamas operated from the building.
“We have called on the Israeli government to put forward the evidence,” AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement provided to Insider. “AP’s bureau has been in this building for 15 years. We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building. This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”
Pruitt condemned the IDF for targeting the building, calling it a “disturbing development.” He also said the IDF has “long known” the tower was used by media and were aware journalists were present.
Pruitt said a dozen journalists and freelancers with AP were able to evacuate in time and that “we narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life.”
The IDF told Insider in a statement the building “housed Hamas military intelligence,” including a research and development unit that is responsible for terror activity carried out against Israel.
The IDF said the unit included subject matter experts who “operate the most valuable Hamas technological equipment against Israel” that has been used “in a number of incidents in attempts to sabotage and disrupt the actions of the IDF and of civilians in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip.”
The statement also acknowledged the building was used by media and said the IDF warned civilians so they could evacuate: “The building contained civilian media offices, which Hamas hides behind and deliberately uses as human shields.”
Al Jazeera did not immediately respond to Insider’s inquiry about the claims that Hamas used the building.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Saturday the White House contacted the Israeli military following the attack on the building.
“We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility,” Psaki said.