IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman pushes back against American lawmakers’ condemnation of the targeting of a building in Gaza that housed a number of international media outlets, where the military says Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization also maintained facilities.
One of the main occupants of the building, the Associate Press news agency, which has maintained offices there for some 15 years, has denied knowledge of Hamas’s presence in the building and demanded the Israel Defense Forces release evidence of that fact, which Zilberman rejected.
“Yesterday I released a statement with the assets that were in the building. I’ll repeat them: a Hamas research and development unit, Hamas military intelligence and offices of the PIJ. It was very clear what was in there,” he says.
Asked if the strike wasn’t a mistake nevertheless given the denunciation by key Israeli allies, including US President Joe Biden and Democratic US Senator Bob Menendez, who have until now overwhelmingly supported Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip in response to ongoing rocket fire from Gaza at cities and towns throughout the country, Zilberman balked.
“We’re in the midst of an operation. They are firing wherever they want, on a civilian population, on cities that have tens and hundreds of thousands of people. Think for a second about all the people you mentioned, imagine what they would say if one rocket — one! — were fired at Washington. I want to know what they would say,” Zilberman says.
“A building that has Hamas and Islamic Jihad assets in it needs to be brought down.”
The spokesperson adds that this operation was meant to deter terror groups from maintaining offices alongside media outlets in the future.
“If Hamas and the Islamic Jihad think that the media are their shield, then in the next operation in Gaza, we’ll find that media outlets’ offices are going to be popping up as covers for terrorist assets,” he says.