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Fmr. Obama official says Hamas was in building that housed AP news destroyed by Israel

Israeli F-16I "Sufa". (Maj. Ofer, Israeli Air Force/Released)
May 19, 2021

Tommy Vietor, former spokesperson for former President Barack Obama and the National Security Council, said on Saturday that Hamas offices were indeed located in the 12-story building Israel destroyed with an airstrike over the weekend. The building also housed the offices of media outlets Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

“I’m sure Hamas offices were in that building & that they purposefully co-locate operations with civilians,” Vietor tweeted, adding that it’s “not a new problem” and further criticizing Israel for the strike.

“That is not a new problem. And if the IDF wants to claim that the military effort is targeted, precise, etc…then you shouldn’t hit that building,” Vietor added.

When asked how Vietor could be sure of that, he said he talked to people who worked in the building. He later clarified his comment, saying, “I talked to someone who *used* to work out of that building periodically who said he believed there may have been Hamas offices there.”

In another tweet, Vietor said, “I don’t think that Netanyahu or US politicians realize how acutely focused the world is on what’s happening in Gaza right now, and how much damage is being done to Israel’s standing.”

Vietor and others, including the AP, have criticized Israel for the strike. The AP said, “We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building.”

However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that Israel provided secret proof to justify the strike, but he couldn’t share what that was.

“We did seek further information from Israel on this question. It’s my understanding that we’ve received some further information through intelligence channels, and that’s not something that I can comment on,” Blinken said.

A senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer told reporters on Wednesday that the building was targeted for housing the “electronic department of the military wing of Hamas,” CNN national security correspondent Kyle Atwood tweeted.

IDF said on Tuesday that Hamas rockets fired from Gaza continued for the ninth night in a row. It has also repeatedly said that Hamas “deliberately hides military targets in residential buildings and civilian areas,” and “endangers its own civilians.”

Israel gave advance warning to civilians in the building, allowing them to evacuate before launching the strike.

Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday morning that he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire,” the White House said. It was Biden’s fourth call with Netanyahu over the past week.