The White House told Israel on Saturday the security of journalists is paramount after Israeli forces destroyed a building where journalist worked and Hamas “placed military assets.”
“We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted.
We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) May 15, 2021
The White House’s communication with Israel comes after Israeli Defense Forces destroyed a building that housed the Associated Press and Al Jazeera in Gaza City.
⭕ LIVE footage of the moment an Israeli air raid bombed the offices of Al Jazeera and The Associated Press in Gaza City ⬇️
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) May 15, 2021
The Israeli Defense Forces defended their strike on account of Hamas utilizing the building for “multiple military purposes such as intelligence gathering, planning attacks, command and control, and communications.”
1/ Hamas has turned residential areas in the Gaza Strip into military strongholds.
It uses tall buildings in Gaza for multiple military purposes such as intelligence gathering, planning attacks, command and control, and communications.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 15, 2021
Israeli Defense Forces continued to explain the situation as follows:
When Hamas uses a tall building for military purposes, it becomes a lawful military target.
The Israel Defense Forces struck a number of such buildings in recent days, but before we did so, we took steps to try and ensure that civilians would not be harmed.
We called the building’s residents and warned them to leave. We sent SMS messages. We dropped “roof knocker” bombs; they make loud noises and hit only the roof. We provided sufficient time to evacuate.
We’ll say it again: When Hamas places military assets inside such a building, it becomes a lawful military target. This is clear international law.
All the multi-story buildings targeted by the IDF were used for military purposes within each building.
Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt pushed back on the attack in a released statement:
We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza. They have long known the location of our bureau and knew journalists were there. We received a warning that the building would be hit.
We are seeking information from the Israeli government and are engaged with the U.S. State Department to try to learn more. This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life. A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building and thankfully we were able to evacuate them in time.
Israel’s counter offensive strike was initiated by “more than 2,000 rockets have been fired toward Israel from Gaza since Monday,” the Hill reported.