Blinken says Israel has sent the US ‘new intelligence’ on the attack on the Gaza building but refuses to disclose details after Netanyahu defied Biden’s call for a ceasefire with more rocket attacks
- Israel said it provided evidence that Hamas militants were using the 12-story building it destroyed in an airstrike Saturday
- Associated Press and Al Jazeera had their Gaza offices in the al-Jalaa building
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed Washington had received information through ‘intelligence channels’
- But he added he could not comment further on the details
- Israeli forces said they hit 65 Hamas targets on Monday night
- Gaza death toll has risen to at least 212 Palestinians, including 61 children
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had been given more information about Israel’s attack on a Gaza building that housed the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera but refused to offer any more details on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden expressed his concerns for press freedom on Saturday after an Israeli airstrike destroyed the 12-story building, claiming it housed Hamas military intelligence.
AP’s leadership said it had yet to see any evidence and has demanded an independent investigation.
As Israel and the Palestinian territories braced for a day of protests and strikes, Blinken said Washington had asked for an explanation.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had received information from Israel on the destruction of a building in Gaza used by media organizations, but offered no further details
The al-Jalaa building housing Associated Press and Al Jazeera media offices is hit by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, May 15, triggering urgent demands that press freedom is protected
Smoke rises as the 12-story building, that housed media organizations, collapses
‘We did seek further information from Israel on this question,’ he said during a news conference with Iceland’s foreign minister in Reykjavik.
‘It’s my understanding that we’ve received some further information through intelligence channels, and it’s not something I can comment on.’
A day earlier, President Joe Biden shifted his public stance from defending Israel’s right to protect itself to calling for a ceasefire during a telephone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin.
Although Monday night passed without rockets being fired from Gaza, the Israeli Defense Force claimed it hit 65 Hamas targets.
And Palestinian militants resumed their attacks later in the day, firing rockets into Israel, triggering warning sirens in cities in the south of the country.
Heavy fighting broke out May 10 when Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers fired long-range rockets towards Jerusalem in support of Palestinian protests against Israel’s heavy-handed policing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint site sacred to Jews and Muslims, and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers.
At least 212 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 61 children, since the conflict started last Monday.
Explosions light-up the night sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave in the early hours of Tuesday
Palestinian firefighters inspect the remains of a destroyed residential building targeted by Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday
Palestinians sit among the rubble of their home that was destroyed during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on Tuesday
Ten Israeli civilians, including a child, have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza.
Israeli officials have repeatedly defended the strike on the al-Jalaa building, claiming they had evidence that the militant group Hamas was using it.
Ron Dermer, former Israeli ambassador to Washington and an adviser to Netanyahu, told CNN: ‘The evidence has already been provided, as I understand it, to U.S. 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.’
Meanwhile, Israeli police said two Thai workers inside Israel have been killed in a strike launched from the Gaza Strip.
Another seven people were wounded in that attack Tuesday afternoon that hit a packaging plant in southern Israel, authorities said.
The military said it also shot down a drone ‘approaching the Israeli border’ in the north-east, far from the Gaza fighting. It did not say where the unmanned aircraft originated, but it is possible the drone came from Syria.