AS`AD AbuKHALIL: Hamas’ Official Account

As`ad AbuKhalil, Consortium News, March 7, 2024 —

Hamas speaks for the frustration and disenchantment by Arabs toward the notion of international justice. Second of two-part article.

Read Part One.

In contrast to Western narratives about the Israeli genocidal war in Gaza, the Hamas official narrative (which was released as a special document in Arabic and English) constructs the context in which the Oct. 7 breakout was conceived and executed.  

For Arabs the context begins with the Zionist invasion of Palestine and the British sponsorship of the Zionist project in the holy land.  For Western governmental and media accounts, it all started on Oct. 7; all was quiet on the Gaza front prior.  Nothing happened before. 

In fact, Israeli propaganda spreads images of Gaza before the war in which the strip is presented as a resort island, where beaches and amusement parks fill the landscape.  

Facts tell a different story.  

Hamas relies on what it calls “documented statistical studies in which it is found that between 2000 and 2023, the Israeli occupation army “killed 11,299 Palestinians and injured 156,768” (the number seems inflated but it does not detract from the fact that Israel has been killing Palestinians regularly and consistently since before Oct. 7, and since before 2005 and since before 2000).  

Hamas notes that the U.S. never expressed any sympathy for the suffering of Palestinians and even continued to sponsor Israeli occupation and aggression during years of carnage and massacres against Palestinians.

This note will resonate among Arabs but won’t make a dent in Western conscience because racism has always been a determinant of Western foreign policy toward the region.  Arab lives never mattered like Israeli lives.

The Hamas document (English) cites U.N. reports, and even the reports of Human Rights Watch which has a history of insensitivity toward Palestinians and Arabs.

I don’t particularly think it is useful for people under occupation to cite reports of HRW because the organization serves as an arm of Western imperialism. It is HRW that created the false equivalency between the violence of the occupier and the armed struggle of the occupied.

Every report on Israeli aggression and war crimes must be matched with a report about the war crimes by the natives, thereby nullifying the juridical value and moral judgment of Israeli war crimes, no matter how massive and regular.  

Hamas even cites Israeli flaunting of its disregard for U.N. reports on Israeli human rights violations.  

Failure of International Law & Justice

The Peace Palace, seat of the International Court of Justice, at The Hague, Netherlands. (UN Photo/ICJ/Jeroen Bouman, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Hamas speaks for the frustration and disenchantment of Arabs toward the notion of international justice.  The Oct. 7 breakout was a revolt against faith in international law and justice. 

The ongoing Israeli war on Gaza has only reinforced the futility of reliance on international organizations and norms. The International Court of Justice report has proven to be utterly ineffectual in the management of the international legal restraints on Israeli genocide.

Hamas was right that the Western coalition has always regarded Israel as a state which is above the law, and that it was permitted (by the Western coalition) to disregard all international treaties and resolutions pertaining to its occupation of Palestine.

The U.S. invaded Iraq in the name of implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions while the U.S. shields Israel from demands to implement U.N.S.C. resolutions on Palestine.  

Hamas indirectly takes a swipe at the two-state myth when it reminds readers that Israel has categorically rejected the creation of a Palestinian state. (Even the ostensible dove, Yitzhak Rabin, never uttered the term “Palestinian state” in his lifetime, and he was supposed to be “the man of peace.”)

Measure of Last Resort 

The document makes a quasi-legal case for the measure of last resort undertaken by Hamas on Oct. 7.

It states its reasoning as being predicated on:

1) the abortion of all hopes for return and liberation, after 75 years of “suffering and occupation”, and the “catastrophic results of the peace process path”;

2) the Judaization (of land) plots and the divisions in “place and time” in the Aqsa Mosque and the “increase in the pace of provocative invasions by settlers” in the mosque; the practices of the far-right Zionist coalition in tightening of control over the West bank and finalizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, as well as the plan to expel Palestinians from the West Bank; the international disregard for the plight of thousands of Palestinians prisoners; the disregard for the “unjust siege” forced on the Gaza strip, which was left to “die a slow death;” the increase in Israeli settlements in the West Bank at the fastest pace and the rise in settlers’ violence and crimes; the inaction regarding the hope of 7 million Palestinians (in the diaspora) to return to their homeland; and the impotence of “the international community” regarding the creation of a Palestinian state. 

Hamas put its breakout attack in the context of a “national response” to those practices and the “expression of the initiative of the people” to “defend its rights, land, and holy sites.”  

Hamas confidently asserts that its operation was “a necessary step and natural response” to the Israeli plans which aim at “liquidation of the Palestinian problem.”

This Hamas document borrows leftist jargon and political literature of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the 1970s, showing that the political rhetoric of the movement has become markedly less Islamist and increasingly anti-colonial.

PFLP patrol in Jordan, 1969. (Thomas R. Koeniges – LOOK Magazine, Wikimedia Commons)

It then lists its goals as: ending the siege of Gaza; getting rid of the occupation; restoring national rights; attaining “independence and freedom,” as well as the right of self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital.

(Here, it is noteworthy that Hamas does not delineate the borders of the would-be state, and whether it encompasses only the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem or more).

Avoiding Civilians

On the execution of the Oct. 7 operation, Hamas explains on page 8 of document that it always avoided targeting civilians.  This may not be true because suicide bombings, while not necessarily aimed at civilians, fail to distinguish between civilian and military targets.  

Hamas reminded its audience that after the massacre of Hebron (by an Israeli) in 1994, it launched an initiative which called for the avoidance of targeting civilians in war. It said that it repeated the offer while Israel ignored it and continued to kill civilians. 

On the night of Oct. 7, Hamas says “there may have been some errors during the implementation of the Aqsa Deluge operation” due to the total and swift collapse of the Israeli military and security order and that some chaos occurred after infiltration through the fence and the security apparatus separating Gaza and the area of operation inside Israel.

The document denies lies and fabrications that are all sourced from the Israeli. It gives examples of exposed lies and cites Mondoweiss.  This section shows a major shift in the media and propaganda strategy of the movement. 

In addition to the decline of the religious component of the rhetoric, the new Hamas of Yahya Sinwar is more sensitive to world public opinion, especially regarding the harming of civilians. 

Sinwar, at left, during police force exercise in Gaza in 2012. (Fars Media Corporation, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

The movement categorically denied stories of rape although Western media failed to carry those denials because they conflict with the Israeli-planted narratives.  

Hamas also correctly refers to verified stories to the effect that Israeli gunfire killed many of the Israelis on that night, just as it killed Israelis later during the savage and indiscriminate bombing of Gaza. 

Hamas and Hizbullah have never in their entire history committed known sexual offenses as their religious-moral code strictly prohibits such deeds. Moreover, the document argues that many Israeli civilians are actually armed settlers or reservists in the occupation army. 

Significantly, Hamas declared its willingness to accept an independent and fair investigation and expressed confidence that they will prove their innocence. 

In the document, Hamas calls on the U.S., Germany, Canada and the U.K. in particular to allow the International Criminal Court to conduct an investigation of the crimes that were committed.  Of course, neither the U.S. nor Israel would allow the ICC to conduct an investigation that would inevitably document crimes by Israel.

In the end, the document salutes “free people from all countries of the world” (without regard to religions, nationalities and orientations). This underlines the new direction of the movement, in the footsteps of Hizbullah, and shows that the movement has incorporated the rhetoric of progressive, leftist and liberation movements. 

The document did not get any attention in the Western press because the West treats Israel as truthful and Arabs as liars:  old Orientalist cliches. 


As`ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of the Historical Dictionary of Lebanon (1998), Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New War on Terrorism (2002), The Battle for Saudi Arabia (2004) and ran the popular The Angry Arab blog. He tweets as @asadabukhalil

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