The Associated Press has been blasted for claiming it had no clue Hamas militants maintained a presence at the news agency’s Gaza headquarters that was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike.
Israel said it shared “smoking gun” evidence with Biden administration officials that Hamas was operating out of the Al-Jalaa tower, which housed the AP, Al Jazeera and other news outlets, according to a report Sunday.
The strike destroyed the 12-story building an hour after the Israeli military ordered it evacuated, saying the high rise was targeted because it was being used by Hamas military intelligence, Fox News reported.
The AP condemned Israel for the attack and claimed to have “no indication” that the terror group operated from the building.
“We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement. “This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”
He added that he was “shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza.”
However, a 2014 article in The Atlantic written by a journalist in the region described a questionable history between the news agency and Hamas.
“When Hamas’s leaders surveyed their assets before this summer’s round of fighting, they knew that among those assets was the international press,” Matti Friedman wrote.
“The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby — and the AP wouldn’t report it,” he wrote.
Friedman claimed the Hamas militants would regularly “burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff — and the AP wouldn’t report it.”
Gabe Hoffman, producer of the documentary “An Open Secret,” said in a tweet: “@AP didn’t know about sharing a building w/ Hamas for 15 years?!?”
Noah Pollack, a contributor to the Free Beacon, said in a tweet: “Spoke to a well-placed friend in the IDF just now. The bombed AP office building contained multiple Hamas operations & offices including weapons manufacturing and military intelligence. The building also housed an Islamic Jihad office. And AP’s local reporters knew about it.”
Another user wrote in a tweet about the AP that it “doesn’t say much for their reporting abilities if they missed a Hamas staging office a floor away.”
President Biden spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, a discussion that included the bombing of the building, and Israel showed Biden and other US officials the intelligence behind their decision, the Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.
“We showed them the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building,” the newspaper reported, citing a source close to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. “I understand they found the explanation satisfactory.”