A former Associated Press editor suggested that Hamas did have offices in the agency's Gaza City building, which Israel destroyed over the weekend

A former Associated Press editor suggested that Hamas did have offices in the agency's Gaza City building, which Israel destroyed over the weekend
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Al Jazeera reports on the destruction of the Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza
Al Jazeera reporting on the destruction of al-Jalaa tower in Gaza City. Al Jazeera

A former Associated Press editor has suggested that the militant group Hamas did indeed have offices inside a Gaza building that Israel destroyed over the weekend.

Israel launched an airstrike on al-Jalaa tower, a structure in Gaza City that housed media outlets including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera, on Saturday.

The Israel Defense Forces said the building also contained military-intelligence assets for Hamas, including "intel for attacks against Israel." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called the building a "perfectly legitimate target," citing the same reason.

The AP has pushed back on Israel's claims, saying in a Saturday statement that it had "no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building" and that it had asked the Israeli government for evidence.

But Matti Friedman, who worked as a reporter and editor at the AP's Jerusalem bureau from 2006 to 2011, contradicted his former employer on Sunday, tweeting: "A conversation with a friend who is intimately familiar with military decision-making right now suggests there were indeed Hamas offices there."

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In a 2014 essay for The Atlantic, Friedman had suggested that AP journalists frequently chose not to report on rocket attacks launched by Hamas near their offices. Friedman told Insider on Monday that he stood by everything in his essay.

When asked for comment, the AP directed Insider to a December 2014 statement denying suggestions of bias against Israel, and saying of Friedman: "His arguments have been filled with distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies, both about the recent Gaza war and more distant events."

The agency added that it rigorously covered Hamas activity, and "published numerous photos and TV footage of rockets being launched from Gaza City."

On Sunday, Friedman tweeted that he didn't write in the 2014 Atlantic essay "that Hamas operated out of the same building, and don't know if that's true," before reporting his military source's suggestion that Hamas did have offices there.

The Jerusalem Post on Sunday cited Israeli officials as saying that they had shared with the US "the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building" and that they believed the Americans "found that explanation satisfactory."

Netanyahu later confirmed that statement in an interview with CBS News.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that he had asked Israel for evidence for its claim about Hamas operations in the building, but that he personally had "not seen any information provided."

The AP's top editor has also called for an independent investigation into the airstrike, and Reporters Without Borders has asked for an investigation into whether it was a war crime. The Israeli military gave the AP and other outlets an hour to evacuate the building before the airstrike.

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