In a 16-page report titled “Our Narrative” and published on Sunday, Hamas, which governs Gaza, said it wanted to “clarify” the background and dynamics of the surprise attack it calls Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.
In its first public report since the attack, Hamas stressed it was “a necessary step and a normal response to confront all Israeli conspiracies against the Palestinian people”.
Early on October 7, Hamas fighters stormed communities along Israel’s southern fence with Gaza. Nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the attack and about 250 others were seized as captives.
Around 100 of the captives were released during a seven-day truce in late November in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
Israeli authorities have accused Hamas fighters of committing war crimes during the attack, including torture, rape and mutilation. Hamas has strongly rejected allegations of sexual violence and or mutilation.
The report said Hamas planned to target Israeli military sites and to capture soldiers, which could be used to pressure the Israeli authorities to release thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
The group added that avoiding harming civilians “is a religious and moral commitment” by fighters of Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades.
“If there was any case of targeting civilians; it happened accidentally and in the course of the confrontation with the occupation forces,” read the report.
It added that “maybe some faults happened” during the attack “due to the rapid collapse of the Israeli security and military system, and the chaos caused along the areas near Gaza.
“Many Israelis were killed by the Israeli army and police due to their confusion,” it said.
Israel responded to the attack with a devastating bombardment of Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade for 17 years, killing more than 25,000 people – mostly women and children, according to Palestinian authorities in the territory.
Palestinian officials and human rights groups have accused Israel of committing war crimes in its assault on Gaza.
The Hamas report also addressed the issue of post-war Gaza, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on his opposition to Palestinian statehood.
“We stress that the Palestinian people have the capacity to decide their future and to arrange their internal affairs,” the report said, adding that “no party in the world” had the right to decide on their behalf.
The report also listed the reasons that led to the attack, citing Israel’s campaign of settlements’ construction “and Judaization of the Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem”, and the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians from 2000 until this year.