Israeli PM says Gaza building housing media 'legitimate target'

Washington (AFP) –


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday defended the strike on the Gaza tower that housed the Associated Press and Al Jazeera bureaus, alleging it also hosted a Palestinian "terrorist" intelligence office.

"Here's the intelligence we had," Netanyahu told CBS News. "An intelligence office for the Palestinian terrorist organization (was) housed in that building that plots and organizes the terror attacks against Israeli civilians."

"So it is a perfectly legitimate target. I can tell you that we took every precaution to make sure that there were no civilian injuries, in fact, no deaths," Netanyahu told the network's show "Face the Nation."

The Associated Press said Israel had not yet provided it with evidence of militant activity in the building, which was reduced to rubble by the strike.

"What the AP would like is... an independent investigation into what happened yesterday," AP executive editor Sally Buzbee told CNN.

"We're in a conflict situation. We do not take sides in that conflict. We have heard the Israelis say they have evidence. We don't know what that evidence is."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday pleaded for an immediate end to the outbreak of deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence, warning that the fighting could plunge the region into an "uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis."

Guterres earlier said he was "deeply disturbed" by Israel's strike on Saturday on the tower housing the media bureaus.

US President Joe Biden on Saturday underscored Israel's right to defend itself in a phone call with Netanyahu but also expressed "grave concern" over the violence as well as for the safety of journalists.

The escalating conflict was sparked by unrest in Jerusalem that had simmered for weeks and led to clashes between riot police and Palestinians, fuelled by anger over planned Israeli expulsions of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem.