Hamas worked on a device to disrupt the Iron Dome missile-defense system in the same Gaza building that housed the Associated Press and was bombed by Israel during Operation Guardian of the Walls, Ambassador to the UN and US Gilad Erdan said Monday night.
He relayed the information, in coordination with the IDF, to AP CEO Gary Pruitt and the news agency’s vice president for foreign news, Ian Phillips, in New York.
Hamas had intelligence and technological research and development offices in the building Israel struck last month, Erdan said. Israel gave advance warning for the strike, and no one was killed.
The target was of “utmost importance” because of the work on an electronic system to disrupt the Iron Dome system that saved millions of Israelis from more than 4,000 rockets launched from Gaza by terrorist groups, Erdan said.
The site was used by the Hamas terrorist organization for intelligence R&D and to carry out SIGINT (signals intelligence), ELINT (electronic signals intelligence) and EW (electronic warfare) operations, targeting both IDF operational activity and civilian systems in Israel, according to the IDF.
Israel is committed to freedom of the press, Erdan said, adding that it does its utmost to avoid harm to civilians, including AP journalists.
“Israel does not think that [AP] workers were aware of the Hamas activities in the building, because it was a secret Hamas unit,” he said.
Israel will help rebuild AP’s offices and ensure they will be able to bring equipment into Gaza, Erdan said.
“Hamas is a murdering terrorist organization that tramples freedom of the press when it operates its terrorist enterprise from within civilian populations, including in the building used by international media,” he said.