by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Israel’s Ambassador to the UN and US Gilad Erdan has told Associated Press President Gary Pruitt that the building in which the news agency had its Gaza bureau was destroyed in Israeli strikes last month because that edifice housed a tech unit from which Hamas was working to jam the IDF’s Iron Dome defense system, the Jerusalem Post reports. Following an advanced warning from the IDF, the building was evacuated before it was bombed during May’s 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Pruitt was informed of Israel’s explanation for the strike during a meeting with Erdan in New York on Monday. “The unit was developing an electronic jamming system to be used against the Iron Dome defense system [which protected millions of Israelis from some 4,000 rockets fired by Hamas,” Erdan is reported to have told Pruitt. The building “posed such an imminent threat to Israeli civilians and was prioritized by the [Israeli Defense Forces],” Erdan explained.
Erdan added that Israel “doesn’t think that AP employees were aware it was being cynically used in this way by Hamas for a secret unit,” the Jerusalem Post reports. Erdan also said Israel will help to rebuild AP’s office and ensure it can bring equipment into Gaza.
“Hamas is a murdering terrorist organization that tramples freedom of the press when it operates its terrorist enterprise from within civilian populations, including in the building used by international media,” Erdan emphasized.
In a statement Tuesday, AP said the meeting with Erdan had been appreciated, but that it had not yet seen the evidence in support of Israel’s explanation. “Israeli authorities maintain that the building housing our bureau was destroyed because of a Hamas presence that posed an urgent threat. We have yet to receive evidence to support these claims,” AP said. “AP continues to call for the full release of any evidence the Israelis have so that the facts are public.”
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