As Gaza deaths top 25,000, Hamas defends attacks that sparked war

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories – Palestinian militant group Hamas on Jan 21 defended its Oct 7 attacks against Israel but admitted to “faults” and called for an end to “Israeli aggression” in Gaza, where the health ministry said the death toll passed 25,000.

Southern Gaza is the latest focus of Israel’s battle to destroy the militant group responsible for the deadliest attack in Israel’s history.

In its first public report on the attacks that began the war, Hamas said they were a “necessary step” against Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, and a way to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later vowed “complete victory” and said his government would not accept Hamas’ conditions for releasing hostages still held in Gaza.

Hamas’ 16-page report admitted “some faults happened… due to the rapid collapse of the Israeli security and military system, and the chaos caused along the border areas”.

The war began when gunmen broke through Gaza’s militarised border to attack Israelis and foreigners in the streets, in their homes and at an outdoor rave party.

This resulted in the deaths of about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Accounts of sexual violence emerged but the scarcity of survivor testimonies and a lack of forensic evidence made it difficult to assess their scale.

Militants seized about 250 hostages during the attacks, and Israel says around 132 remain in Gaza.

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