Hamas official: Non-military leaders ‘surprised by date, not by actions’ of shock onslaught

Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk (AP/Hatem Moussa)
Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk (AP/Hatem Moussa)

Moussa Abu Marzouk, a Hamas political bureau member based in Doha, says all of the terror group’s non-military members had no prior knowledge of the shock attack on Israel last Saturday, October 7, when terrorists infiltrated by land, sea, and air, and launched a devastating onslaught that killed over 1,300 people, a majority of them civilians.

The terrorists also captured between 150 and 200 hostages and took them to Gaza, including babies, young children, women, and elderly people.

“All of Hamas’s leaders who are not military ones received the news early Saturday morning,” he tells the New Yorker

Abu Marzouk says the “political” leaders were “surprised by the date but not by the actions.” The Qatar-based officials said Hamas’s military wing “are the ones who plan, execute, and so on, but they abide by the general policies put forth by our political bureau.”

He says that Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, was surprised by the success of its devastating early morning attack and expected the IDF units around Gaza to be “the strongest divisions, and the most trained,” with “a lot of information and fortifications,” as well as assistance from “intelligence officers who know a lot about our movements.”

He says Hamas “never expected” the confusion and retreat in the face of the massive infiltration.

Abu Marzouk also denies — against overwhelming evidence, including footage posted proudly by terrorists — that Hamas killed civilians but conceded that some of the indiscriminate violence may have been committed by other terrorists and civilians who had followed the initial Hamas terror squads when they blew open holes in the security barriers.

Of the hostages, he says, “the innocent people who were imprisoned, we will not keep them,” and adds that “it’s too early to talk about swaps” between captured Israeli soldiers and Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails.

Hamas’s Gaza leaders have threatened to execute hostages and post these executions online if Israel targets Gaza buildings without first warning occupants, as it has done in previous operations.

Israel has launched intense airstrikes in Gaza, vowing to “dismantle” Hamas. On Friday, Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip in “localized raids” to clear the area of potential terrorists and locate missing Israelis in a likely precursor to a full-scale incursion, the military said.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said some 1,900 Palestinians had been killed since fighting began on October 7. It did not differentiate between members of armed groups and civilians.

Israel said it is targeting terrorist infrastructure and all areas where Hamas operates or hides and that Israeli forces have also killed some 1,500 Hamas terrorists who infiltrated into its territory since Saturday.

Abu Marzouk tells the New Yorker the threat to kill hostages is “a mistake — we can’t execute hostages,” and claims four captives — Israeli soldiers — had already died, blaming Israeli strikes.

“Let the situation calm down and the bombardment stop for us to be able to differentiate the prisoners from various factions. They are a very big number. Let us stop the war and everything can be discussed on this issue.”

Asked what Hamas hoped to achieve with its deadly massacre that would only prompt punishing Israeli reprisals, he says it was the first time Palestinians “are crossing the borders and fighting in their historic land,” blaming Israel, the US, Europeans and everyone else for failures to “achieve the Palestinian people’s rights.”

“Israel used to wage war against us outside its borders, to kill us and imprison us. Now it’s the opposite. Now the future Israeli generations will know they can’t continue to occupy the Palestinians — they can’t continue their wars forever. This is the biggest achievement,” he says.

He says Ara states will likely continue pursuing ties with Israel and that the devastating attack would likely only delay moves in this direction.

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