The Associated Press announced that it is reopening its Gaza offices, in a new location, more than a year after the destruction of AP’s Gaza headquarters during last May’s war between Israel and Hamas.

Israel said the al-Jalaa Building was being used by the Hamas terrorist organization, which runs Gaza, to jam Israel’s Iron Dome, a short-range rocket-defense system that protects civilian communities in southern Israel. 

The building “was of high military value to Hamas” both intelligence research and for electronic warfare, the Israel Defense Forces stated last year, following the IAF airstrike that took out the building.

Israel said it had to destroy the high-rise building, because Hamas was “hiding behind” the press offices in the tower and “using them as human shields.”

“The Hamas terror group intentionally locates its military assets in the hearts of civil populations in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF noted.

While the building housed the offices of the AP, Al Jazeera and other media outlets, who appeared unreactive to Hamas’ alleged use of the site, the IDF provided the building occupants ample time to leave, resulting in zero civilian casualties, according to media reports.

“AP’s resilient Gaza team has never wavered, even in the moments our bureau collapsed and in the weeks that followed,” said AP President and CEO Daisy Veerasingham. “The Associated Press has operated in Gaza for more than half a century and remains committed to telling the story of Gaza and its people.” 

According to the AP, 12 staffers and freelancers were inside the 12-story building on May 15, 2021, when the Israeli military contacted them on the telephone, warning them to evacuate the building within one hour. They did so, filming the destruction from a neighboring high-rise building.

“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,” the AP said in a statement at the time. “They have long known the location of our bureau and knew journalists were there. We received a warning that the building would be hit.”

“The Israeli government says the building contained Hamas military intelligence assets. We have called on the Israeli government to put forward the evidence,” the news wire stated. “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. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”

Israel later presented the United States with what it said was evidence that Hamas had been working in the building.

“We showed them the ‘smoking gun’ proving Hamas worked out of that building,” an unnamed senior diplomatic source said at the time. “I understand they found the explanation satisfactory.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister at the time, confirmed that Israel had shared intelligence with the U.S., which proved Hamas had been operating out of the tower. 

“The intelligence we had is about an intelligence office for [Hamas] housed in that building that plots and organizes terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians,” Netanyahu said. “It is a perfectly legit target.”

Netanyahu added that there were “no deaths whatsoever” from the strike, because Israel does all it can to avoid harming civilians, including telephoning or delivering advance warnings. 

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that most countries supported Israel’s right to defend itself, despite the destruction of the media-based tower. During the 2021 war, Israel struck hundreds of buildings that it said housed Hamas or other-terrorist assets, in response to the thousands of indiscriminate rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians inside Israel.  

“From an analysis the Foreign Ministry did … 80 percent 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 foreign ministry source told The Jerusalem Post at the time. 

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