Explosion at Gaza tower
Explosion at Gaza towerMajdi Fatkhi/TPS

As the dust settles on Operation Guardian of the Walls, the post mortems are coming in fast and furious, and, not to be outdone, the New York Times is now alleging that “high ranking officials in [the Israeli] government and the military” are calling one of the most memorable missile strikes of the campaign a “mistake.”

The strike in question occurred on Saturday May 15th, and leveled a 12-story building in the heart of Gaza City. The al-Jalaa tower was home to prominent tenants such as the Associated Press (AP) and al-Jazeera, and as such, they were given an hour to evacuate the building by the IDF official who called to warn them.

The AP immediately protested the IDF’s intentions, and was told that the tower also housed key assets of the Hamas terrorist organization, and was therefore a legitimate target. The AP again protestedclaiming that there was “no indication Hamas was in the building” – and was told that the evidence for Hamas’ presence would be produced in due time.

Several days later, after coming under fire from across the globe, the evidence was duly produced, with a senior diplomatic source telling the Jerusalem Post that, “We showed [the Americans] the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building. I understand they found the explanation satisfactory.”

The Americans may have been satisfied, but world opinion was not, and classically, pictures spoke louder than thousands of words. Footage of journalists racing to save as much equipment as they could from their offices – occupied for the past 15 years – before IDF bombers appeared in the skies overhead became “the story,” along with allegations that Israel was actively conspiring to limit media coverage from Gaza.

According to IDF spokesman Major Doron Spielman, “The building housed Hamas’ research and development offices and their special ops – but when we took the building down, the international press spent a week telling the world that we were going after the press.”

The New York Times quotes one (unnamed) official as suggesting that “while the airstrike was justified militarily … the harm done to Israel’s international standing outweighed any benefit from destroying the Hamas equipment.”

The AP has yet to admit that it knew who its neighbors in the al-Jalaa building were, and likely it never will do so. One former AP employee, veteran journalist Matti Friedman, has already hinted that AP knew very well that it was being exploited as a human shield, tweeting the day after the strike that, “a conversation with a friend who is intimately familiar with military decision-making right now suggests there were indeed Hamas offices there.”

Friedman later clarified that he had no way of knowing if the AP was truly aware that Hamas occupied several offices in the building, but in the past, he has accused AP of turning a blind eye to Hamas rocket launches from “right beside their office” – due to fear of Hamas reprisals if they published. “Hamas militants would regularly burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff — and the AP wouldn’t report it,” he wrote in the Atlantic, in 2014.

AP’s response, and self-defense, to Friedman’s allegation was that it was “filled with distortions, half-truths and inaccuracies.” They went on to explain that “armed militants entered AP’s offices … to complain about a photo showing the location of a specific rocket launch … such intimidation is common in trouble spots … [and is] part of the challenge of getting out the news – and generally not themselves news.”

Evidently, filming Hamas operatives racing to salvage as much of their equipment from the doomed al-Jalaa building before the IDF blew it up was also not deemed newsworthy.