Fire erupts from the Al-Jalaa Tower as it's destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza city controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 15, 2021.

  • Israeli airstrikes destroyed a media building in Gaza housing the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.
  • Israel said the building also contained military intelligence assets for the militant group Hamas.
  • But AP said they had "no indication" Hamas used the building and called on Israel to offer evidence.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

The Associated Press pushed back Saturday on the Israeli government's claims that the militant group Hamas was operating in the media building in Gaza destroyed in an airstrike earlier that day.

The Al-Jalaa tower was home to several international media organizations, including AP and Al Jazeera, which were notified an hour before the building was flattened.

The Israeli Defense Forces released a statement saying the high-rise was being used by Hamas military intelligence, but AP said they had "no indication" Hamas operated from the building.

"We have called on the Israeli government to put forward the evidence," AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement provided to Insider. "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."

Pruitt condemned the IDF for targeting the building, calling it a "disturbing development." He also said the IDF has "long known" the tower was used by media and were aware journalists were present.

Pruitt said a dozen journalists and freelancers with AP were able to evacuate in time and that "we narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life."

The IDF did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on AP's statement, but said earlier that the building was used to house the Hamas military intelligence's research and development unit, providing few details.

"The building contained civilian media offices, which Hamas hides behind and deliberately uses as human shields," the IDF said in a statement.

Al Jazeera did not immediately respond to Insider's inquiry about the claims that Hamas used the building.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Saturday the White House contacted the Israeli military following the attack on the building.

"We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility," Psaki said.

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