Blinken speaks to AP chief after Israeli airstrike destroys media building
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the president and CEO of The Associated Press, Gary Pruitt, on Saturday night, hours after Israeli airstrikes flattened a building that housed the news service as well as Al Jazeera in Gaza City.
Blinken, according to a readout of the call from spokesperson Ned Price, “offered his unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world and noted the indispensability of their reporting in conflict zones.”
“He expressed relief that the Associated Press team on the ground in Gaza remains safe,” Price added.
The Israeli Defense Forces defended the decision to target the building on Twitter, saying Hamas has “placed military assets” inside high-rise buildings for intelligence gathering, communication and other purposes.
The military told the owner of the building that occupants had an hour to leave before the structure would be bombed.
Pruitt denounced the attack on Saturday, writing that the wire service was “shocked and horrified” that Israeli forces would launch an airstrike on the building.
“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what transpired today,” Pruitt added.
President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the attack, the second conversation between the two leaders since violence erupted in the Gaza Strip and across Israel.
According to a readout of the call released by the White House on Saturday afternoon, Biden “reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza” and “raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection.”
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