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Israel Palestine

US urges Israel, Palestinians to ‘protect civilians’: Blinken

Published: Updated:

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said the US urges Israel and Palestinians to “protect civilians” and children, adding that Israel has an extra burden to do everything to avoid civilian casualties.

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Blinken said the US remains “greatly concerned” by the escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

The US will continue to conduct intensive diplomacy, he added.

Blinken called on Hamas and other groups in Gaza to end the rocket attacks.

The Secretary of State said the US had been working “intensely” behind the scenes to bring the violence to an end, adding that it had also been alarmed by how journalists and medical workers have been put at risk.

Blinken said he hasn’t yet seen any evidence supporting Israel’s claim that Hamas operated in a Gaza building housing The Associated Press and other media outlets that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike. Blinken said he has pressed Israel for justification.

Blinken spoke at a news conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, a day after The Associated Press’ top editor called for an independent investigation into the Israeli airstrike over the weekend that targeted and destroyed a Gaza City building housing the AP, broadcaster Al-Jazeera and other media, saying the public deserves to know the facts.

Israel destroyed a building housing The Associated Press and Al Jazeera and claimed that Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office.

Separately, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel’s bombing of a building housing the media organizations as a possible war crime.

Sally Buzbee, AP’s executive editor, said that the Israeli government has yet to provide clear evidence supporting its attack, which leveled the 12-story al-Jalaa tower.

The Israeli military, which gave AP journalists and other tenants about an hour to evacuate, claimed Hamas used the building for a military intelligence office and weapons development.

Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said Israel was compiling evidence for the US but declined to commit to providing it within the next two days.

Blinken said he has not seen any Israeli evidence of Hamas operating in the building and has asked Israel for justification for the strike.

“Shortly after the strike we did request additional details regarding the justification for it,” Blinken said from Copenhagen, Denmark. He declined to discuss specific intelligence, saying he “will leave it to others to characterize if any information has been shared and our assessment that information.”

But he said, “I have not seen any information provided.”

Read more:

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Israeli PM says Gaza building housing media was ‘legitimate target’

Israel-Gaza fighting enters its second week amid mounting ceasefire calls