Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) aired an audio recording of Deputy-Chairman of Hamas’s Political Bureau Saleh Al-Arouri on October 12, 2023, in which he stated that Hamas does not target civilians. He elaborated that any civilians that were killed in Israeli kibbutzim and settlements, were killed during clashes between Al-Qassam Brigades and Israeli guards, soldiers, and armed civilians. Al-Arouri added that Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades only captured soldiers, but ordinary residents of Gaza tagged along with Hamas, and they were the ones who captured civilians and brought them back to Gaza.
Al-Arouri: "When the [Israeli] Gaza Division collapsed so quickly and unexpectedly, and people in Gaza realized that the borders were open, and that the army [guarding] the Gaza Envelope collapsed, civilians from Gaza, young men, and armed men entered [Israel] and some unplanned chaos developed in the clashes. Therefore, people [from Gaza] entered the kibbutzim and settlements. Then, some of the guards, soldiers, and settlers there clashed with the men of the Al-Qassam Brigades, inside those kibbutzim and settlements and this led to civilian casualties.
“The truth is that our mujahideen do not target civilians. It is inconceivable that they would perpetrate the kind of crimes mentioned by the occupation, like rape, killing children, or killing civilians. The [Israeli] army collapsed and did not fulfill its duty of defending itself and defending the civilians. The civilians found themselves in the middle of the clashes, in an open area, where many armed men [from Gaza] arrived, so there were many civilian casualties.
"We are not saying that no civilians were killed, but it was 100% not part of the Al-Qassam Brigades’ plan to harm or kill civilians. It was not part of the Al-Qassam Brigades' plan. The men of the Al-Qassam Brigades captured soldiers and took them to Gaza. There are civilians who were captured, because ordinary people [from Gaza] tagged along, grabbed people and took them back to Gaza."