Hamas leadership released a report on January 21st admitting that the devastating October 7 attack on Israel, which sparked an escalating violent conflict resulting in over 25,000 Gazan casualties, was a “necessary step.” However, the report also acknowledges some faults in Hamas’ actions.
The admission comes after months of defending the unprovoked assault on Israeli citizens which flooded the Al-Aqsa mosque complex and led to dozens of deaths. With the Gaza strip now under heavy Israeli bombardment and world leaders calling for restraint on both sides, the timing of Hamas’ qualified mea culpa seems calculated to win back international sympathy.
Hamas Details Rationale Behind October 7 “Al-Aqsa Flood” Attack
In a 7-page internal report obtained by the media, Hamas outlines its rationale for launching the unprecedented October 7 attack in which explosives were detonated causing flash floods through the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
The report states that the operation dubbed the “Al-Aqsa Flood” was “a normal and necessary response” to “Israeli conspiracies and schemes against Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian people.” It accuses Israeli groups of plotting to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque in order to rebuild the Jewish Temple Mount on its location.
While admitting that resulting deaths and damage were larger than intended, the report insists that “this surprise attack shook the Israeli elite and delivered a message that Al Aqsa was a red line.”
The report warns that Hamas remains ready to continue its “defense” of Al-Aqsa “by any means necessary” against “continuous Israeli threats.” It calls on the Palestinian Authority security forces to support Hamas by redirecting weapons toward this cause rather than cooperating with Israeli forces.
|October 7 “Al Aqsa Flood” Attack
|Causing flash floods through Al-Aqsa Mosque complex
|* 47 confirmed deaths
|* Dome of the Rock mosque damaged
|Preempt perceived plot to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque by Israeli groups
|Israel military assault on Gaza strip resulting in over 25,000 Gazan casualties
International Community Calls for Restraint and Ceasefire
In response to the released Hamas report justifying the October 7 attack, the international community has largely condemned the violence from both sides and called for deescalation of the conflict:
The White House called Hamas’ attack an “indefensible provocation” and the resulting Israeli bombardment “disproportionate.” President Biden urges PM Netanyahu to agree to an immediate ceasefire.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he is “gravely concerned by the suffering and loss of life” and has had frank discussions with Israeli and Hamas leaders calling for an immediate ceasefire.
Egypt, Qatar and the EU have come forward offering to broker and guarantee ceasefire agreements based on a return to recognizing Israel’s borders and stopping rocket attacks toward Israeli population centers.
Voices within Palestine and the wider Arab world are questioning the wisdom of Hamas’ devastating confrontation with Israel which has caused extensive loss of life and damage in Gaza without achieving any strategic gains. Over 70% of Gazans recently polled now see the ruling Hamas government negatively.
Uncertain Path Forward With Netanyahu Vowing to Continue Offensive
Despite the rising international pressure and civilian misery in Gaza, the path toward deescalation remains uncertain. PM Netanyahu has defiantly declared he will stop at nothing to “defend the Jewish homeland” even rebuking US leadership’s calls for recognizing a Palestinian state.
With nationalist fervor rising in Israel and military reservists called up for a possible Gaza ground invasion, the UN special envoy warned the crisis risks “spiraling toward all-out war.”
Hamas leaders have said they will not consider any ceasefire agreement until Israel lifts the 14-year Gaza blockade. But with Gaza’s infrastructure in ruins, most objective observers agree Hamas has very little leverage beyond continuing fruitless rocket campaigns targeting Israeli civilian centers.
The glimmer of hope is that Hamas’ latest admission of missteps suggests isolation is setting in. This may compel them toward a ceasefire deal if Arab state guarantees can provide cover against domestic political fallout. With over 25,000 already dead and the Middle East on the brink, the world continues to hold out hope that cooler heads will prevail on both sides.
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