LONDON: Senior Hamas official Khaled Mashal has said the group was aware of the ramifications of its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, and added Palestinian lives would need to be sacrificed in order to win “liberation.”
Speaking in a fractious interview with Al-Arabiya host Rasha Nabil, Mashal praised the “ingenious” Hamas attack and called it “legitimate resistance” to Israeli occupation.
Nabil challenged the former political leader of Hamas and questioned whether the group could call its “transgressions against Israeli civilians” in southern Israel true resistance, saying it was “more like a declaration of war” decided upon without the backing of the Palestinian people.
She also noted that in the Western media Hamas was now being compared to Daesh, and pressed Mashal on how he had expected to encourage sympathy for the Palestinian cause by carrying out the attacks, which killed nearly 1,400 Israelis.
She also highlighted the fact Hamas likely expected the response such an attack would prompt from the Israeli military and must therefore hold responsibility for the “great human tragedy” unfolding in Gaza, where thousands of Palestinians have been killed or wounded and more than 1 million internally displaced.
“We know very well the consequences of our operation on Oct. 7,” Mashal said.
He added that sacrifices had to be made for liberation and cited examples of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, the Vietnamese during their war with the US, Afghan resistance to Soviet and American occupation, and the Algerian battle for independence.
He said: “The Palestinian people are just like any other nation: No nation is liberated without sacrifices. Israel will kill us, whether we resist it or not.”
Mashal was asked if treating civilians in such a way was part of Hamas’ ideology, and he responded by saying the group only focused its resistance on “occupation forces, on the soldiers.”
He added: “In all wars, there are some civilian victims. We are not responsible for them.”
Mashal was asked if he wanted to apologize for civilian deaths in the attacks. He replied: “Apologies should be demanded from Israel. Hamas does not kill civilians on purpose. It focuses on the soldiers. Period.”
The Hamas official urged Egyptian leaders to do more to assist Hamas, while thanking those he said were resisting with Palestinians in Gaza, naming Hezbollah in Lebanon.
He said: “Outside of Palestine, we are grateful to whoever is standing by us.”
Nabil asked Mashal why Arab nations who “did not participate in making the decision” to attack Israel should be asked do more. He said: “When people are under occupation, they have a natural right to do so. Nobody has the right to ask us why we did this and whether we consulted with anyone.”
He said he hoped to use hostages taken in the Oct. 7 attack to “empty Israeli prisons” of “our sons and daughters from all the factions.”