Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the United States had received further information about Israel’s destruction of a Gaza high-rise that housed the local offices of Al Jazeera and The Associated Press news agency.
“We did seek further information from Israel on this question,” Blinken said at a joint briefing with Iceland’s foreign minister in Reykjavik on Tuesday. “It’s my understanding that we’ve received some further information through intelligence channels, and it’s not something I can comment on,” he said.
He declined to provide further details.
On Saturday, Israel destroyed an 11-storey tower block in Gaza housing the offices of Al Jazeera, the AP and other media organisations.
The Israeli army gave a telephone warning to the owner of the al-Jalaa tower – which also houses residential apartments – that people had just an hour to evacuate the building before its fighter jets bombed it.
Israel said the building “contained military assets belonging to the intelligence offices of the Hamas terror organisation”.
The AP’s top editor, Sally Buzbee, on Sunday said they were yet to see any evidence from Israeli officials to justify the bombing and added that her organisation wants an independent investigation into the attack.
Ron Dermer, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington and now adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told CNN that evidence has been provided to Washington.
“The evidence has already been provided, as I understand it, to US intelligence officials. And that was a site where you had Hamas intelligence in that building, and they were engaged in activity that actually would have, as far as I understand, would have undermined our ability to actually target effectively and also undermined our ability to intercept incoming rockets.”
Dr Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, called the attack a deliberate act to prevent journalists from doing their work.
“We call on the international community to condemn such barbaric actions and targeting of journalists and we demand an immediate international action to hold Israel accountable for its deliberate targeting of journalists and the media institutions,” Souag said on Saturday.
Egyptian mediators are trying to negotiate a ceasefire, but the US has stopped short of demanding an immediate stop to the hostilities and Israel has so far pledged to press on.
On Monday, US President Joe Biden said he supports a ceasefire but reiterated that Israel has a right to defend itself.
At least 213 people, including 61 children, have been killed in air raids on the Gaza Strip since May 10, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health. And in Israel, 12 people have been killed, mostly from rocket fire.