Blinken: Israel provided US secret justification for flattening AP building in Gaza

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Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Tuesday said that Israel privately gave the US a justification for flattening a 13-story building in Gaza that housed the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

US politicians who support Israel speculate that Hamas, which controls Gaza, also used the Al Jalaa tower. But critics of Israel say it’s an example of the country going too far in response to a barrage of rockets fired into Israel by the militant group.

“We did seek further information from Israel on this question. It’s my understanding that we’ve received some further information through intelligence channels, and that’s not something that I can comment on,” Blinken said.

Israeli officials previously claimed they gave the US “smoking gun” evidence that Hamas operated from the building. Israel’s military called occupants of the building to give them time to evacuate and reportedly first fired a “roof-knocking” missile that causes noise.

The AP criticized Israel, saying, “We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building.”

But Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council under former President Barack Obama, said that the building was long known as an operational center for the Islamic fundamentalist group.

“I’m sure Hamas offices were in that building [and] that they purposely co-locate operations with civilians” Vietor wrote on Twitter. He added that “I talked to people who worked in the building.”

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