Blinken: I haven't seen evidence Hamas used Gaza media building

US Secretary of State says Israel has right to defend itself but a 'special responsibility' to protect civilians in Gaza.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Tony Blinken
Tony Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that he had not seen any evidence that the media building in Gaza which was attacked by Israel over the weekend was used by the Hamas terrorist organization in a joint press conference with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod Monday.

"I have not seen any information provided. And again, to the extent that it is based on intelligence, that would have been shared with other colleagues and I’ll leave that to them to assess," Secretary Blinken said.

"I had the opportunity over the weekend before leaving to speak to the president and CEO of the AP, Gary Pruitt. We had what I thought was a good – very good conversation. And I wanted to speak to him and as well as to all of you to reaffirm the strong commitment of the United States, the unwavering support of the United States for independent journalists and media organizations around the world, including for their safety and security," he said.

"I think independent journalism is especially important in conflict zones. I made a similar point earlier this month when we marked World Press Freedom Day, and I had the opportunity then to speak to journalists from around the world who, like so many of you, are pursuing the truth at – sometimes at great risk, and that’s something I take very much to heart.

"So when it comes to the strike in Gaza, first, I was relieved that no one from the journalism community in that strike was hurt and people were able to leave the building safely. As you know, I think, President Biden and other members of the administration have raised directly our concerns with our Israeli counterparts about the safety and security of journalists operating in Gaza. And we have stressed the need for their protection.

"Shortly after the strike, we did request additional details regarding the justification for it. I wouldn’t want to weigh in on intelligence matters in – in this forum. It’s not my place. I will leave it to others to characterize if any information has been shared and our assessment of that information.

"The broader point, though, remains, and this is really critical: Israel has a special responsibility to protect civilians in the course of its self-defense, and that most certainly includes journalists," Blinken said.

Foreign Minister Kofod added: "We are deeply, deeply concerned about the escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine, and we have called from the Danish side for immediate de‑escalation. It is needed to avoid further loss of civilian life. I have myself been in contact with the Israeli foreign minister and also the Palestinian foreign minister. The indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and militant groups in the Gaza Strip is completely unacceptable. So I recognize Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense, but the Israeli military operations must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law. U.S. and EU are already deeply engaged in ensuring de-escalation, and it’s something that we work hard for. And I echo the words of Tony, that we need to protect civilian life as much as we possibly can."