“The demolition of the tower where the AP offices were located is equivalent to a ‘PR terror attack’ and an own-goal,” said Alon.
Israel’s bombing of a building in the Gaza Strip that housed the Associated Press (AP) bureau during Operation Guardian of the Walls was an “own-goal,” former IDF general Nitzan Alon said on Sunday.
Alon, who conducted one of the IDF probes into the May operation, spoke during a panel at an Institute for National Security Studies’ conference.
“The demolition of the tower where the AP offices were located is equivalent to a ‘PR terror attack’ and an own-goal,” said Alon. “The military benefit was not equivalent to the political and image damage [to Israel].”
“It was an own-goal for us, not everyone in the IDF accepts this but I am convinced that this was a mistake,” said the retired IDF general. “The operational achievement was not entirely proportional to the diplomatic PR damage that this thing created and even from that there is quite a bit to learn.”
“I think the success of the IDF in the overall PR dimension is very, very partial,” said Alon, stressing that there were “a long list of lessons” that needed to be learned concerning coordination between different bodies and within the IDF, as well as the need to take advantage of existing technology.
The IDF investigator added that the IDF needed to consider who it wants to target with PR efforts, with the first target needing to be the decision makers of the other side.
“I think we are still very weak in being able to influence broad public opinion in Gaza during fighting and causing this pressure to reach Hamas decision makers,” said Alon.
Alon was referring to the bombing on May 15 of the al-Jalaa tower in Gaza City, a 12-story office building that was home to the bureaus of the Associated Press (AP) and Al Jazeera.
No one was hurt or killed in the airstrike – the air force called the owner of the building and gave him an hour to evacuate – but the incident was a turning point in the Biden administration’s approach to Israel’s anti-Hamas offensive, leading to condemnations by the White House press secretary as well as the secretary of state.
Despite the condemnations, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit refused to release evidence to prove that the building was a Hamas target and only released a vague statement claiming that Hamas had an intelligence research-and-development unit in the building that constituted a “unique asset for the terrorist organization.”