AP Top Editor: Probe Israeli Airstrike 05/17 06:17
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Associated Press' top editor is calling for an
independent investigation into the Israeli airstrike that targeted and
destroyed a Gaza City building housing the AP, broadcaster Al-Jazeera and other
media, saying the public deserves to know the facts.
Separately, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders asked the International
Criminal Court to investigate Israel's bombing of a building housing the media
organizations as a possible war crime.
Sally Buzbee, AP's executive editor, said Sunday that the Israeli government
has yet to provide clear evidence supporting its attack, which leveled the
12-story al-Jalaa tower.
The Israeli military, which gave AP journalists and other tenants about an
hour to evacuate, claimed Hamas 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 U.S. but declined to commit
to providing it within the next two days.
"We're in the middle of fighting," Conricus said Sunday. "That's in process
and I'm sure in due time that information will be presented."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would share any evidence of
Hamas' presence in the targeted building through intelligence channels. But
neither the White House nor the State Department would say if any American
official had seen it.
Buzbee said the AP has had offices in al-Jalaa tower for 15 years and never
was informed or had any indication that Hamas might be in the building. She
said the facts must be laid out.
"We are in a conflict situation," Buzbee said. "We do not take sides in that
conflict. We heard Israelis say they have evidence; we don't know what that
"We think it's appropriate at this point for there to be an independent look
at what happened yesterday -- an independent investigation," she added.
In remarks Sunday, Netanyahu repeated Israel's claim that the building
housed an intelligence office of Hamas. Asked if he had relayed supporting
evidence of that in a call with President Joe Biden on Saturday, Netanyahu said
that "we pass it through our intelligence people."
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, known by its French acronym RSF,
said in a letter to the court's chief prosecutor that the offices of 23
international and local media organizations have been destroyed over the past
RSF said it had strong reason to believe that the Israeli military's
"intentional targeting of media organizations and intentional destruction of
their equipment" could violate one of the court's statutes. It said the attacks
serve "to reduce, if not neutralize, the media's capacity to inform the public."
RSF asked the international court, based in the Dutch city of The Hague, to
include the recent attacks in a war crimes probe opened in March into Israel's
practices in Palestinian territories.
Buzbee said the AP journalists were "rattled" after the airstrike but are
doing fine and reporting the news. She expressed concern about the impact on
"This does impact the world's right to know what is happening on both sides
of the conflict in real time," she said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone Saturday with AP's
president and CEO, Gary Pruitt. The State Department said Blinken offered "his
unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around
the world and noted the indispensability of their reporting in conflict zones."
Buzbee and Conricus spoke on CNN's "Reliable Sources" and Netanyahu was on
CBS' "Face the Nation."