WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Associated Press’ top editor wants an independent investigation into Israel’s bombing of a building in Gaza that was home to her news organization as well as broadcaster Al Jazeera.
AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said that her organization had not yet seen any evidence from Israeli officials to justify the bombing, which leveled the 12-story al-Jalaa tower block on Saturday.
Israeli officials said they carried out the strike because Hamas was operating an intelligence cell out of that office building.
“We’ve heard the Israelis say they have evidence,” she told CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” “We don’t know what that evidence is. We think it is appropriate at this point for there to be an independent look at what happened yesterday.”
Israelis provided advanced warning to civilians in the building, allowing them to get out before missiles obliterated the structure.
Speaking Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that there was “an intelligence office for the Palestinian terrorist organization housed in that building that plots and organizes terror attacks against Israeli civilians so it’s a perfectly legitimate target.”
Buzbee told CNN that while her journalists were unhurt and were now operating out of rival media group Agence France-Presse’s offices in Gaza, the attack destroyed a critical node for newsgathering out of the territory.
“We’re not taking sides in the actual conflict,” she said. “But we are in favor and what we do believe in is protecting the world’s right to know what is going on in this conflict or any conflict. This is an important story and because of the actions yesterday, the world is going to know less.“
On Saturday U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the AP’s president, Gary Pruitt, and offered his “unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world,” a State Department spokesman said in a statement.
(Reporting by Raphael Satter; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)