An Israeli airstrike on Saturday, May 15, demolished a multi-story building that hosted Hamas terrorist officials. Several other news media have their offices there and have criticized the attack.
Some international media organizations operated from the 12-story Al-Jalaa tower before it was taken down, including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera. They were given a warning of Israel’s intention one hour prior.
LATEST: An Israeli airstrike has destroyed a building that housed The Associated Press' offices in the Gaza Strip, the AP reports.
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) May 15, 2021
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) explained that the Al Jala Tower in Gaza was where Hamas military intelligence primarily operates, taking advantage of civilians among them to avoid being targeted.
“The building contained civilian media offices, which Hamas hides behind and deliberately uses as human shields,” IDF declared on Twitter. “The base gathered intel for attacks against Israel, manufactured weapons & positioned equipment to hamper IDF operations.”
“Hamas chooses to hide among civilians as it carries out attacks against Israel. This choice does not grant Hamas terrorists immunity from IDF strikes,” the agency added. The Associated Press was not happy with the loss of their office inside Gaza’s territory. In an update, the outlet claimed that press-freedom groups criticized that Israel was trying to shut down “coverage of Israel’s relentless offensive against Hamas militants.”
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt released a statement that denied their encounter with any Hamas personnel over the past 15 years of AP’s operation in the property.
“The Israeli government says the building contained Hamas military intelligence assets. We have called on the Israeli government to put forward the evidence. 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,” wrote Pruitt. “This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”
Pruitt wrapped up insinuating the same narrative that Israel had a different purpose for knocking off the building. “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”
For the years, Hamas has been accused of manipulating news coverage in its region by force.
In 2018, journalist Matti Friedman reported in The New York Times that Hamas gave journalists life threats to concoct how the media would deliver the story. The tactic of blending between civilians was their way of diverting the reality.
“I complied with Hamas censorship in the form of a threat to one of our Gaza reporters and cut a key detail from an article: that Hamas fighters were disguised as civilians and were being counted as civilians in the death toll,” Friedman wrote. “The bureau chief later wrote that printing the truth after the threat to the reporter would have meant “jeopardizing his life.” Nonetheless, we used that same casualty toll throughout the conflict and never mentioned the manipulation.”
The Israelis journalist added that Hamas used civilians to successfully convince the public that Israeli forces overstep the mark and hurt innocent Palestinians during the protest at the Gaza-Israel border in March three years ago.
“Israeli soldiers facing Gaza have no good choices. They can warn people off with tear gas or rubber bullets, which are often inaccurate and ineffective, and if that doesn’t work, they can use live fire. Or they can hold their fire to spare lives and allow a breach, in which case thousands of people will surge into Israel, some of whom—the soldiers won’t know which—will be armed fighters.”