News ID: 303136
Published: 0234 GMT May 17, 2021

US says no evidence to justify Israel’s bombing of media building in Gaza

US says no evidence to justify Israel’s bombing of media building in Gaza
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

A ball of fire erupts from the Al-Jalaa Tower, housing the offices of news outlets, as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on 15 May, 2021.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday he has not seen any intelligence from Israel to justify the weekend airstrike that destroyed a high-rise in Gaza City housing the offices of major news outlets, including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

Speaking at a press conference in Denmark, Blinken said the US requested additional details “shortly after the strike,” but said so far he has “not seen any information provided”, AP reported. 

The secretary of state declined to comment further on specific intelligence, adding he will “leave it up to others to characterize if any information has been shared and our assessment of that information”.

Israel was widely condemned for the weekend bombing, which many criticized as an attack on free press. Among the news outlets housed in the building were The Associated Press, Al Jazeera and the Middle East Eye, as well as local news publications.

No one was in the building at the time it was leveled by the Israeli airstrike as occupants were given a one-hour advance warning, though The Associated Press in a statement said it had “narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with CBS claimed that the building housed an intelligence office of Hamas and the intelligence to support this would be passed “through our intelligence people”.

 

Call for independent probe

 

The Associated Press Executive Editor Sally Buzbee has asked for an independent investigation into the attack, saying, “We heard Israelis say they have evidence [but] we don’t know what that evidence is.”

Blinken’s comments on Monday came a day after UN Security Council diplomats and Muslim foreign ministers convened emergency meetings to demand a stop to civilian bloodshed as Israeli warplanes carried out the deadliest single attack in nearly a week of airstrikes.

Blinken urged all parties in the conflict to protect civilians and said the US is working intensively to an end to the violence which continued on Monday.

Israel killed Islamic Jihad's commander for north Gaza Hussam Abu Harbeed in heavy airstrikes on Gaza, according to Reuters.

Palestinian groups in Gaza also gave no sign that an end to fighting was imminent. Soon after Harbeed's death, Islamic Jihad said it had fired rockets at the Israeli coastal city of Ashdod, and Israeli police said three people had been hurt.

At least three Palestinians were also killed by an Israeli airstrike on a car in Gaza City on Monday, medics said.

Israel's military said Palestinians had fired about 60 rockets towards Israeli cities overnight.

Another Palestinian was killed in an aerial attack on the town of Jabalya, medics said.

Gaza health officials put the Palestinian death toll since the hostilities flared last week at 201, including 59 children and 35 women. Ten people have been killed in Israel, authorities said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
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