In May, Israel was slammed by the media for bombing an office building in the Gaza Strip that housed an Associated Press bureau. On Tuesday, it came to light that the building was being used by Hamas militants to develop and operate a sophisticated piece of technology attempting to render Israel’s Iron Dome system ineffective at detecting and shooting down incoming rockets.
In a statement, Israeli Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations Gilad Erdan said that the device would have made Israel vulnerable to rocket attacks unless it was taken out.
Erdan and the Israel Defense Forces provided the information to the Associated Press by contacting AP CEO Gary Pruitt and the news agency’s VP for foreign news, Ian Phillips, according to the Jerusalem Post. No one was killed in the strike as Israel provided advance warning to evacuate the building.
Posting on Twitter, Erdan explained:
Yesterday, I visited the @AP HQ in New York to explain to top executives that the building housing their Gaza operation was being used by Hamas terrorists trying to jam the Iron Dome — that is why it was prioritize[d] by the IDF during last month’s operation. AP is one of the most important news agencies in the world and Israel does not suspect its employees were aware a covert Hamas unit was using the building in this way.
Israel did everything to ensure no employees or civilians were hurt during this operation. In contrast, Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization that purposely places its terror machine in civilian areas, including in buildings being used by international media outlets.
I reaffirmed that Israel upholds the importance of press freedom and strives to ensure the safety of journalists wherever they are reporting. Israel is willing to assist AP in rebuilding its offices and operations in Gaza.
In response, the Associated Press stated: “Israeli authorities maintain that the building housing our bureau was destroyed because of a Hamas presence that posed an urgent threat. We have yet to receive evidence to support these claims. AP continues to call for the full release of any evidence the Israelis have so that the facts are public.”