Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday the Associated Press (AP) had ample warning about the airstrike that took out an 11-story building, and that the lack of injuries and deaths was due to planning, not luck.
The AP claimed in a statement Sunday they “narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life” and were thankful they could “evacuate … in time.”
While speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Netanyahu said an AP journalist also claimed they were lucky to get out alive despite having ample warning of the impending strike.
“One of the, I think, AP journalists said we were lucky to get out. No, you weren’t lucky to get out. It wasn’t luck. It’s because we took special pains to call people in those buildings, to make sure that the premises were vacated.”
He then called out the lies of the AP directly: “One of the, I think, AP journalists said we were lucky to get out. No, you weren’t lucky to get out. It wasn’t luck. It’s because we took special pains to call people in those buildings, to make sure that the premises were vacated” pic.twitter.com/gt6xIO3Lkt
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) May 16, 2021
Netanyahu claimed that Israel takes every precaution to avoid civilian fatalities. (RELATED: Rockets Launched From Syria Into Israel, IDF Says)
“We, unlike Hamas, take special precautions to tell people: leave the building, leave the premises, we make sure that everyone is gone before we bring down those terrorist facilities,” the prime minister said.
The Saturday airstrike demolished an 11-story building housing international media offices like the AP and Al Jazeera. The building collapsed after three missiles struck it, according to Al Jazeera. Israeli authorities ordered everyone to evacuate the building an hour before the airstrike.
Netanyahu also said Sunday there was evidence that Hamas resided in the building. However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that he has yet to see evidence that Hamas was operating in the building despite asking Israel for proof, according to the AP.
The AP also said in their initial statement they were “shocked and horrified” about the attack and said they 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,” the outlet said.
A 2014 report by The Atlantic raised suspicions about whether the AP knew about the alleged Hamas connections to the buildings.
“When Hamas’s leaders surveyed their assets before this summer’s round of fighting, they knew that among those assets was the international press. The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby – and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas.”
“Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff – and the AP wouldn’t report it,” the report stated.