Hamas officials say they do not regret the October 7 attack on Israel and would do it again.
The Israeli response has killed thousands of Palestinians, but Hamas says the price is worth it.
The goal was to "overthrow" the status quo, not "improve the situation in Gaza," one official said.
More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed in the month since Hamas' terrorist attacks inside southern Israel, the group's health ministry in Gaza says.
But Hamas officials say the mounting death toll, believed to include thousands of children, has not caused the group to regret its actions in southern Israel, which Israeli officials said killed 1,400 people.
In fact, Hamas leaders say that their goal was to trigger this very response and that they're still hoping for a bigger war. It's all part of a strategy, they say, to derail talks over Israel normalizing relations with regional powers — namely, Saudi Arabia — and draw the world's attention to the Palestinian cause.
Hamas, these officials say, is more interested in the destruction of Israel than what it sees as the temporary hardships faced by Palestinians under Israeli bombardment.
"What could change the equation was a great act, and without a doubt, it was known that the reaction to this great act would be big," Khalil al-Hayya, a member of the group's governing politburo, told The New York Times in an interview.
With the October 7 attack, Hamas says it was less interested in merely governing the Gaza Strip and its more than 2 million inhabitants — some of whom protested its authoritarian rule and economic mismanagement in the weeks and years ahead of the latest war with Israel — than it was in fighting a war in the name of Palestinians everywhere.
"Hamas's goal is not to run Gaza and to bring it water and electricity and such," al-Hayya said. He said the October 7 attack "woke the world up from its deep sleep" and forced it to confront the plight of Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank where, in recent weeks, Israelis in illegal settlements have stepped up deadly attacks on their Palestinian neighbors.
"This battle was not because we wanted fuel or laborers," al-Hayya said. "It did not seek to improve the situation in Gaza. This battle is to completely overthrow the situation."
Hamas hopes war will expand
The Israeli response to the October 7 massacre has been the deadliest in the history of Gaza, killing a record number of United Nations aid workers and displacing hundreds of thousands of the territory's residents, some of whom have told Insider that — despite Israeli assurances — nowhere feels safe. Israel's bombardment has been so intense and at such an apparent high cost to Palestinian civilians that even its allies are expressing concern over the devastation.
But that destruction has also made the suffering of Palestinians international news. The Hamas spokesperson Taher El-Nounou told the Times that, rather than end with a cease-fire now, his group would prefer for the conflict to expand.
"I hope that the state of war with Israel will become permanent on all the borders and that the Arab world will stand with us," he told the Times.
In an interview this week with the Lebanese newspaper Al Liwaa, Osama Hamdan, another Hamas leader, reiterated that the group had no regrets for attacking Israel.
Asked whether Hamas, with the benefit of hindsight, would carry out such an attack again, Hamdan said the question was hypothetical but "the answer is 'yes.'" He said the October 7 operation was "not a momentary step" but part of Hamas' strategy, which he said was "aimed at ending Israel's attempts to bring an end to the Palestinian cause and to build local alliances that will remove the Palestinian people from history."
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