Thousands have been killed in the Gaza Strip, with entire families wiped out. Israeli airstrikes have reduced Palestinian neighborhoods to expanses of rubble, while doctors treat screaming children in darkened hospitals with no anesthesia. Across the Middle East, fear has spread over the possible outbreak of a broader regional war. But in the bloody arithmetic of Hamas’ leaders, the carnage is not the regrettable outcome of a big miscalculation.
Quite the opposite, they say: It is the necessary cost of a great accomplishment — the shattering of the status quo and the opening of a new, more volatile chapter in their fight against Israel.
It was necessary to “change the entire equation and not just have a clash,” Khalil al-Hayya, a member of Hamas’ top leadership body, told The New York Times in Doha. “We succeeded in putting the Palestinian issue back on the table, and now no one in the region is experiencing calm.”
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Since the shocking Hamas attack Oct. 7, in which Israel says about 1,400 people were killed — most of them civilians — and more than 240 others dragged back to Gaza as captives, the group’s leaders have praised the operation, with some hoping it will set off a sustained conflict that ends any pretense of coexistence among Israel, Gaza and the countries around them.
“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,” Taher Nounou, a Hamas media adviser, told the Times.