Uproar after IDF destroys Gaza high-rise containing media offices -- and Hamas intel assets, it says

The Israeli military gave occupants of the building a warning to evacuate an hour before it attacked, which is why there are no known casualties as I write this.

The question here is straightforward even if the answer might not be: Were there in fact Hamas intelligence assets based in the tower, as the IDF claims? If so then it’s fair game as a military target notwithstanding the fact that the Associated Press and Al Jazeera had offices in the same building. (The structure contained residential apartments too.) If not then Israel’s guilty of lying to justify an attack on the media.

How will we know, though? Unless some reporter somewhere finds a source within Hamas willing to confirm that his group was using the building covertly, public opinion will diverge according to how willing one is to take the IDF’s word for it.

If it can be proved that Hamas was based in the building, it raises an uncomfortable secondary question. Did the AP and Al Jazeera know that? If so, why were their offices there?

Al Jazeera captured the moment when the tower was hit by a series of missile strikes:

The AP and its reporters are mortified — at Israel, even though it’s Hamas that would have put the news bureau in harm’s way by using that building if the IDF’s claims are true:

The AP’s story about the attack didn’t try to hide its skepticism of Israel’s motives: “The Israeli military said Hamas was operating inside the building, a standard explanation, and it accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields. But it provided no evidence to back up the claims.” I don’t know what that sneering aside about a “standard explanation” is aimed at. It is standard for terrorists to hide assets in civilian areas, knowing how it forces the enemy to choose between declining to destroy those assets or destroying them and inviting a public backlash for endangering civilians.

The White House is responding … cautiously:

Why cautiously? It’s not just that the domestic politics here are tricky, with Biden caught between a pro-Israel U.S. majority and a pro-Palestinian (and, in some cases, pro-Hamas} left. It’s that the laws of war are clearly on Israel’s side if Hamas was using that building:

The closest thing we have at the moment to evidence of a terrorist presence in the tower or not is the landlord telling the BBC that there were no Hamas agents based there, only journalists and residents. But what else can he say? Would he even know if Hamas had assets inside? If he did, imagine the fate that would await him if he spoiled Hamas’s big propaganda victory by confirming that the group had been using the tower.

Occam’s razor: If the IDF is lying about Hamas being based in the tower, what does it gain from knocking the building down? It’s a propaganda gift to the enemy and a rallying cry for a media that’s already anti-Israel in its posture. It’s not going to stop the Associated Press or Al Jazeera from reporting on Israel’s operations in Gaza. If anything, it’ll make them more determined. And it looks like operations may be winding down soon anyway: Sources told the Times of Israel that they’re cautiously optimistic a ceasefire will be reached in the next day or two.

If it turns out that Hamas was operating in the building then, as I say, we’re left with an uncomfortable question of why the AP and Al Jazeera were operating there too. Are they so blind to what’s happening around them that they didn’t know terrorists were plotting a few floors below? Or did they know and choose to look the other way, whether out of sympathy for the Palestinian cause or because willful blindness to Hamas’s activities is the price of doing business for a news bureau in Gaza?