The Associated Press’ top editor on Sunday called for an independent investigation into the Israeli airstrike that targeted and destroyed a Gaza City high-rise that housed offices of AP, Al Jazeera and other media outlets, saying the public deserves to know the facts.
Sally Buzbee, AP’s executive editor, said the Israeli government has yet to provide clear evidence supporting its attack, which leveled the 12-story Al Jala tower.
The Israel Defense Forces, which has said it gave journalists and other tenants “sufficient time” to evacuate, alleges the Hamas terror group used the building for a military intelligence office and weapons development.
Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said Israel was compiling evidence for the US, but did not confirm when it would be ready.
“We’re in the middle of fighting,” Conricus said Sunday, adding that he is “sure in due time that information will be presented.”
Buzbee said the AP has had offices in the building for 15 years and was never informed or had any indication that Hamas might be in the building.
The IDF accused Hamas of “hiding behind” the offices of the press outlets in the tower and “using them as human shields.”
“The Hamas terror group intentionally locates its military assets in the hearts of civil populations in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.
“We are in a conflict situation,” Buzbee said. “We do not take sides in that conflict.”
“We think it’s appropriate at this point for there to be an independent look at what happened yesterday — an independent investigation,” Buzbee added.
The strike on Saturday came shortly after massive rocket barrages were fired by terrorists in the Gaza Strip toward central Israel. In Ramat Gan, a 50-year-old man was killed when a rocket struck near his home.
Israel has struck hundreds of buildings in the Gaza Strip, including several high-rises in response to the rocket attacks since last Monday. The military maintains that the targets it struck all housed assets of Hamas or other terror groups.
Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired over 3,000 rockets toward Israel since the outbreak of fighting last Monday, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
Ten people in Israel, including a young child, have been killed in the rocket fire, and hundreds have been injured.
In Gaza, the toll from the fighting climbed to 197 on Sunday, including dozens of children, with over 1,230 wounded, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups have confirmed 20 deaths in their ranks, though Israel says that number is much higher and that dozens of those killed were terrorists. In addition, the IDF says some deaths were caused by errant rockets fired at Israel which fell short of their targets and landed in the Strip.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.