Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said on May 17 that he had so far seen no evidence confirming the Israeli government’s claim that the Hamas terrorist group was operating in a building in Gaza where the Associated Press and others media is not accommodated.
An Israeli air strike on Saturday overturned the building known as the Jala Tower, which Hamas said was used by top Israeli leaders.
Other media organizations, such as Al Jazeera, which is supported by Qatar, also had a presence in the tower.
Blinken spoke at a news conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he stated that he was not aware of evidence that Hamas had worked in the building and that he had asked for justification from Israel.
“Shortly after the strike, we requested additional details regarding the justification for it,” Blinken said during the conference, declining to comment on specific intelligence. The Associated Press.
Blinken said he would “leave it to others to type if any information is shared and we will review the information.”
“I have not seen any information yet,” he said.
A day earlier, an Associated Press editor had called for an independent inquiry into the air strike.
Foreign Secretary Gary Pruitt, AP’s chief executive, spoke on Saturday after the building was destroyed. According to spokesman Ned Price, Blinken ‘has offered steadfast support to independent journalists and media organizations around the world, noting that the indispensability of their reporting is in conflict zones. He expressed relief that the Associated Press team remained safe on the ground in Gaza. ”
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said they were organizing evidence for the United States, and did not want to present it for the next two days.
“We are fighting. It is underway and I am sure that the information will be presented at the right time, “he said on Sunday.
Over the weekend, The Associated Press denied knowledge of the terrorist group operating in the building.
Pruitt said they had no knowledge of the fact that Hamas was in the tower, and that this was something they were ‘actively checking to the best of our ability’. We will never knowingly endanger our journalists. ”
Pruitt issued a statement saying “we have received a warning that the building will be hit.”
AP said their employees and freelancers were evacuated before the building was shot down.
The Israeli military (IDF) told local media that the building hid ‘military assets’ from Hamas and accused them of using AP, Al Jazeera and other media in the building ‘as human shields’.
The IDF claims that “the Hamas terrorist group is deliberately locating its military assets in the hearts of civilian populations in the Gaza Strip.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they would present testimony from Hamas via the intelligence channels in the 12-story Jala Tower.
AP executive editor Sally Buzbee said their organization has been operating in the building for 15 years and has never seen any indication that the terrorist group may be there.
“We’re in a conflict situation,” she said. “We are not taking sides in the conflict. We have heard Israelites say that they have evidence; we do not know what the evidence is. ”
“We think it is appropriate at this stage to look independently at what happened yesterday – an independent inquiry,” Buzbee added.
In addition, Blinken said Monday that the United States is working “intensively” to end the conflict in the Middle East, denying the idea that Washington is impeding diplomacy with the United Nations.
Blinken also called on Hamas to end the rocket attacks.
“There is no equivalence between a terrorist group that fires civilians without rockets and a country that defends its people against the attacks. That is why we call on Hamas and other groups in Gaza to end the rocket attacks immediately,” said Blinken.