Middle East/North Africa

Blinken says he has yet to see evidence related to Israeli strike on media building

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said he personally has not seen any evidence that Hamas was operating from a Gaza City building hit over the weekend by an Israeli air strike that also housed employees for The Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

Blinken, while delivering remarks in Copenhagen, said he has asked Israel for evidence to bolster its claim that Hamas was operating in the building, according to the AP. He said that he personally has “not seen any information provided.”

Israeli forces flattened the building housing the media organizations on Saturday, as violence between Israel and Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. and other countries, escalated last week.

The Israeli Defense Forces defended the strikes on Twitter, claiming that Hamas “placed military assets” inside the high-rise building for intelligence gathering, communication and other purposes.

The owner of the building received a call from the military before the strike, warning that the structure would be a target. Individuals in the building were given an hour to vacate before the strikes were deployed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a Sunday interview told host John Dickerson on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that an intelligence office for the Hamas that “plots and organizes the terror attacks against Israeli civilians” was housed in that building.

“So, it’s a perfectly legitimate target,” Netanyahu added.

When asked if he showed proof of the Hamas threat in the building to the U.S., Netanyahu said, “Well, we share with our American friends all that intelligence.”

Dickerson pressed Netanyahu on if he showed President Biden proof of Hamas in the buildings targeted when the leaders spoke on Saturday. Netanyahu responded, “Well, we pass it through the intelligence services to our people, to those people.”

According to a readout of the Saturday call between the two leaders released by the White House, Biden “raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection.”

The violence between Israel and Hamas entered its second week on Monday, continuing the worst conflict the two sides have seen since 2014. 

The current battle is a result of weeks of escalating tensions that began with Israeli police action at Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, and were exacerbated by an impending, and since-postponed, Supreme Court hearing on a potential eviction order in a predominately Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem. Hamas began firing rockets into Israel on May 10.

More than 200 people have died thus far, according to The AP, with the vast majority of the casualties Palestinians in Gaza.

Netanyahu this weekend signaled that Israel’s strikes and military action would not cease immediately. He told Israelis in a televised address Sunday that Israel “wants to levy a heavy price” on Hamas, adding that it will “take time,” according to the AP.

When asked by Dickerson how much longer the hostilities are going to continue, Netanyahu said, “We hope that it doesn’t continue very long.” He later added, “It’ll take some time, I hope it won’t take long but it’s not immediate.”

Tags Antony Blinken Benjamin Netanyahu Joe Biden

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