Ex-IDF General Claims Strike on AP Tower in Gaza Was 'Own Goal'
11:54 GMT 25.10.2021 (Updated: 11:58 GMT 25.10.2021)
The Israeli military levelled the US news agency's offices in the Gaza Strip during the May 2021 war with local militant groups, barely escaping casualties among journalists and drawing massive international criticism over their actions.
The May 2021 IDF strike on the "AP tower" in Gaza was a mistake and a PR disaster for Tel Aviv, former Israeli general, Nitzan Alon, has suggested in a speech to Tel Aviv's Institute for National Security Studies. Alon, the ex-head of IDF Operations who investigated this PR blunder, further questioned whether this operation was really worth all the trouble it brought.
"Bringing down the tower with the AP offices was equivalent to a self-inflicted 'public relations terror attack' and an own goal, in our view. Not everyone in the IDF believes this, but I am convinced that this was a mistake. The operational benefit was not worth the damage that it caused diplomatically and in terms of perception".
The former general added that the May conflict presented a "long list of lessons" that need to be learned about intra-organisational communication. Alon cited issues that existed in communications both within the IDF and between the Israeli military and the government.
Israel Scolded After Brining Down 'AP Tower'
The IDF airstrike levelled the 12-storey Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza City, hosting the local office of the Associated Press, on 15 May as Tel Aviv was waging a 15-day war with Gazan militant groups, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The conflict started after the said groups launched a barrage of rockets towards Israeli cities following clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli police in Jerusalem.
While the Israeli military warned the occupants of the building one hour ahead of the airstrike, AP later said it was a miracle no journalist died or was hurt during the incident. The news agency harshly condemned the IDF's actions, with many other countries, including the Israeli ally, the US, joining the criticism.
15 May, 17:02 GMT
The blunder was exacerbated by the lack of a proper explanation from the IDF as to why it decided to level the building. Initially, the military simply claimed that Hamas militants used the tower for their operations. Only later, on 8 June after the conflict was over, did the Israeli military explain in an official statement that their intel suggested that Hamas had sophisticated equipment to impede its Iron Dome air defence system stationed at the tower. Associated Press executive editor Sally Buzbee rejected the claim, saying that over the 15 years the news agency had owned the building she'd never been informed about it hosting any Hamas militants or equipment.