American News May 16, 2021 5:12 PM EST

'Smoking gun': Evidence proving presence of Hamas in AP building in Gaza shown to Biden administration

In the wake of an Israeli Defense Forces air strike on a building housing the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera in Gaza Saturday, Israeli officials showed US officials what they call "smoking gun" evidence that the Hamas worked out of the same building.

'Smoking gun': Evidence proving presence of Hamas in AP building in Gaza shown to Biden administration
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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In the wake of an Israeli Defense Forces air strike on a building housing the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera in Gaza Saturday, Israeli officials showed US officials what they call "smoking gun" evidence that the Hamas worked out of the same building, the Jerusalem Post reports.

"We showed them the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building," a source close to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said. "I understand they found the explanation satisfactory."

The Israeli Air Force struck the 12-story building on Saturday, giving residents of the building an hour warning to evacuate.

"The building housed the offices of civilian media, which the terrorist organization Hamas hides behind and uses as human shields,” said an IDF statement. "The terror organization Hamas deliberately places its military assets in the heart of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. Prior to the attack, the IDF warned the civilians who were in the building and gave them sufficient time to evacuate."

The United States was reportedly the only country to inquire about the IDF strike, with other countries supportive of Israel backing the country's right to defend itself.

"From an analysis the Foreign Ministry did [on Sunday], 80% of the 90 countries we spoke to in recent days released official statements supporting Israel’s right to defend itself. They aren’t calling to stop the operation,” a ministry source told the Jerusalem Post.

Both Al-Jazeera and the Associated Press condemned the air strike, saying that they are "shocked and horrified."

"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," said AP president and CEO Garry Pruitt on Saturday. "The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."

Acting director of Al-Jazeera Media Network Dr. Mostefa Souag called the strike "barbaric."

"The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and to hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza," he said.

A source told  Jack Posobiec that certain floors were under strict supervision inside the building by Hamas guards.

"US military field-grade officer tells me the tower IDF struck in Gaza housed an underground Hamas Tactical Operations Center (TOC). Tenants were not allowed below a certain floor, which contained guards in tailored suits watching straits and elevators. Building owner knew," Posobiec wrote.

Gabe Hoffman wrote on Twitter that the AP office had existed in that building for 15 years, with journalists associated with the outlet claiming they had no knowledge of Hamas operating out of the building.

"AP's bureau has been in this building for 15 years. We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building. This is something we actively check to the best of our ability," AP wrote in a statement Sunday.

Matti Friedman wrote in The Atlantic after Operation Protective Edge in 2014 that "Hamas understood that reporters could be intimidated when necessary and that they would not report the intimidation... The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby – and the AP wouldn't report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas."

Former Obama spokesperson Tommy Vietor wrote on Twitter that "I'm sure Hamas offices were in that building & that they purposefully co-locate operations with civilians."

When asked how he knew that Hamas was housed in that building, Vietor added that "I talked to people who worked in the building."

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