- Hamas says it wasn’t using a building housing prominent media outlets that Israel destroyed.
- The building, which housed AP and Al Jazeera offices, was destroyed via a Saturday airstrike.
- The recent fighting has killed at least 204 Palestinians and 10 Israelis.
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Hamas on Monday rejected the Israeli government’s assertion that the militant group was operating out of a Gaza building that housed prominent media outlets and was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike over the weekend.
“Hamas did not have any military or intelligence operations in Al-Jalaa Tower,” Basem Naim, a Hamas official who is the head of the Council on International Relations in Gaza, told The Intercept. Naim’s comments were the first official denial from Hamas to the international media regarding Israel’s claims about the strike.
“We don’t operate anything related to the military wing from civilian houses,” Naim said.
The Associated Press and Al Jazeera, which had offices in the now-destroyed building, have called for an independent investigation into the strike.
The Jerusalem Post, citing anonymous Israeli officials, in a report over the weekend said the US had been provided with a “smoking gun” proving Hamas was using the building.
But Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said he’d not personally seen any evidence backing up Israel’s claim that Hamas operated out of the building, and the White House has also not said whether it’s been provided with intelligence to back up Israel’s assertions.
“I’m not going to be in a position now or ever of committing or confirming who has or hasn’t seen intelligence,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said to reporters on the matter during Monday’s press briefing.
The Israeli government is facing growing criticism from human rights groups over airstrikes during the past week that have leveled several large buildings in Gaza.
“There is a horrific pattern emerging of Israel launching air strikes in Gaza targeting residential buildings and family homes – in some cases entire families were buried beneath the rubble when the buildings they lived in collapsed,” Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement on Monday. “Deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian property and infrastructure are war crimes, as are disproportionate attacks.”
At least 204 Palestinians, including 58 children and 34 women, have been killed as the fighting has intensified since last Monday, according to Gaza’s health ministry, per Reuters. At least 10 people in Israel, including two children and a soldier, have also been killed.