In an interview with the Financial Times published on Friday, Ali Barakeh, a member of Hamas’ political leadership based in Lebanon, said the group “didn’t expect this much of a response” from the United States.
“An Israeli response? Yes, we expected that,” he stated, adding, “But what we’re seeing now is the entrance of the US into the battle, and this we didn’t count on.”
Washington has made major shows of force in the Middle East since Hamas’ deadly October 7 attack on Israel, deploying two aircraft carrier strike groups to the Mediterranean, as well as an amphibious assault ship carrying 2,000 sailors and marines. US officials have claimed the moves were meant to deter outside actors from taking part in the Gaza war.
The Israel Defense Forces have pounded the Gaza Strip with airstrikes in response to Hamas’ attack earlier this month, which claimed some 1,400 lives, according to Israeli officials. More than 7,000 Palestinians have reportedly been killed in weeks of IDF bombing since, with Israel now preparing a significant ground operation intended to eliminate Hamas.
Barakeh went on to say the group had at least 40,000 fighters in its ranks, and that most were based in extensive tunnel networks built under Gaza.
“We have been prepared for a ground offensive,” he added, explaining that the underground complex is stocked with months of supplies.