Associated Press says Israel has provided no evidence of Hamas presence in Gaza office

Israeli army bombed the building housing AP and other media outlets in May

FILE - In this Saturday, May 15, 2021, file photo, an air bomb hits the building housing various international media, including The Associated Press, in Gaza City. Israel’s defense minister has distanced himself from comments made by his military chief after Israel bombed the Gaza Strip high-rise housing an Associated Press office and other news outlets. (Mahmud Hams/AFP via AP, File)
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Israel has yet to provide The Associated Press with any evidence that Hamas militants were operating from the building used by the news agency in Gaza before it was destroyed during last month's conflict.

AP issued a statement on Tuesday after Israel's ambassador to the US and UN, Gilad Erdan, said he had visited the agency's New York headquarters to explain why Israel bombed the building.

"Israeli authorities maintain that the building housing our bureau was destroyed because of a Hamas presence that posed an urgent threat," AP's media relations director Lauren Easton said.

"We have yet to receive evidence to support these claims."

Mr Erdan had written on Twitter that the Gaza building used by AP and other outlets was being used by "Hamas terrorists" trying to jam the Iron Dome rocket defence system.

"That is why it was prioritised by the IDF during last month’s operation,” Mr Erdan wrote.

The ambassador said Israel did not "suspect" AP of having any knowledge of Hamas's presence in the building.

On May 15, the Israeli military launched an air strike on a high-rise building in a crowded part of Gaza city.

The 12-storey building, which had been home to AP for 15 years, was levelled.

No AP employees were injured in the strike.

In its statement, AP described the conversation with Mr Erdan as “positive” and “constructive” but called on Israel to release all evidence "so that the facts are public".

Mr Erdan said on Twitter that "Israel is willing to assist AP in rebuilding its offices and operations in Gaza".

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