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Smoke rises after sraeli forces destroyed building in Gaza City where Al-Jazeera and Associated Press had their offices. Photo: Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday he had not personally seen evidence that Hamas was operating in a building that housed offices for Al Jazeera, the AP and other media in the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli government has claimed, AP reports.

The latest: "The Secretary was referring only to what he personally had seen. As he made clear, any such information would be provided to others in the administration, not directly to the secretary of State," a senior State Department official told Axios.

Why it matters: Israel has said the presence of a Hamas military intelligence office justified an airstrike that destroyed the 12-story building on Saturday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday that Israeli intelligence had shared proof with the U.S.

  • “Shortly after the strike we did request additional details regarding the justification for it,” Blinken said at a press conference in Denmark Monday, later adding he has "not seen any information provided.”
  • Blinken said he "will leave it to others to characterize if any information has been shared and our assessment of that information."

The state of play: The AP and Al Jazeera have also said they were not provided evidence that Hamas occupied the building.

  • The news outlets condemned the airstrike and called for an independent investigation, with AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt saying "the world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."
  • Acting director-general of Al-Jazeera Media Network Mostefa Souag called the strike a "war crime," describing it as an effort to curtail press coverage of the situation in Gaza.
"We have called on the Israeli government to put forward the evidence. 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."
— AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt in a statement

In a phone call with Pruitt on Sunday, Blinken "offered his unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world and noted the indispensability of their reporting in conflict zones," according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from a senior State Department official.

Go deeper

Aug 24, 2021 - Health

Arkansas governor says no more ICU beds available for COVID-19 patients

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

There are no more intensive care unit beds available for coronavirus patients due to a surge in cases driven by the Delta variant, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Why it matters: It is the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that ICU beds are full in the state, AP reports. The state reached a new record on Monday for the number of coronavirus patients currently on ventilators, according to government data.

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.