White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (File image)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (File image)

White House declines to comment if Biden has seen Israeli intel on AP Gaza building

ANI | Updated: May 18, 2021 02:53 IST


Washington [US] May 18 (ANI): White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday declined to comment whether President Biden has viewed intelligence that the Israeli government says it shared with the US justifying an airstrike targeting a building that housed The Associated Press in Gaza.
"I'm not going to be in a position now or ever of committing or confirming who has or hasn't seen intelligence," Psaki told reporters at a briefin as reported by the Hill.
The Jerusalem Post, citing Israeli officials, reported over the weekend that Israel shared intelligence showing that Hamas was operating out of the building hit in Gaza with an airstrike on Saturday. The building housed the AP and Al Jazeera; journalists were given short warning before the strike and no one was harmed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said in an interview "Face the Nation" that the Israeli government shared intelligence with the US linking the building to Hamas, as reported by The Hill.
"We share with our American friends all that intelligence and here's the intelligence we had, it's about Palestinian terrorist -- an intelligence officer for the Palestinian terrorist organization housed in that building that plots and organizes the terror attacks against Israeli civilians," Netanyahu said. "So it's a perfectly legitimate target."
However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Denmark that the US had asked for information on the strike, but that he hadn't "seen any information provided," while indicating that intelligence information would have gone through different channels. Psaki suggested that it wouldn't be surprising for Blinken not to have seen such information, without confirming or denying that anything had been shared, reported The Hill.
"That's not necessarily a surprise, but in terms of who has or hasn't seen it, what's been communicated, I'm just not going to be in a position to confirm that," Psaki told reporters in the briefing today.
The Office of Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.
The strike prompted broad condemnation from press freedom groups and was the latest sign of escalating tensions between Israel and Hamas in the region. Biden, who spoke with Netanyahu over the weekend, also raised concerns about the strike on the building that housed journalists.
"The President noted that this current period of conflict has tragically claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children," the White House said in a readout of the call on Saturday. "He raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection," reported The Hill.
Psaki on Monday repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether Biden thought Israel's actions over the weekend were proportionate. She noted that the Biden administration is engaged in "quiet and intensive diplomacy" in order to deescalate the situation in the Middle East and said some messages would be communicated privately, reported by the Hill. (ANI)

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