Bizarre claims from Hamas in incredible English press conference

Hamas officials used a rare pre-recorded English language video to claim it had given “clear instructions” to its gunmen not to aim at civilians.

It comes after widespread condemnation for the attack Hamas launched on Israel last weekend. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) claims more than 1,600 people have been killed during the assault.

While at least 1,700 people have been killed in Gaza and a further 6,049 injured. Basim Naim, the Hamas head of international relations, insisted it was keen to “avoid harming civilians”, reports The Telegraph.

Speaking into four microphones, Naim said the group had “targeted only Israeli military bases and compounds that were suffocating the people of Gaza for more than 17 years.”

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Naim appeared alongside Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad. They spoke in front of a backdrop with scenes of urban warefare depicted behind them.

It came after other Hamas officials reportedly claimed the 260 revellers killed at the Nova music festival were confused for “resting” soldiers.

In a bid to win sympathy from the international audience, Naim said the IDF were responsible for civilian deaths, he claimed “the swift collapse of the Israeli military bases and the surrender of the Israeli soldiers” caused “chaos” in which “civilians found themselves in the middle of the confrontations.”

The Hamas official also defended the group against claims it had mistreated or possibly killed captives. He said: “We are fully committed to treat them in accordance with our religious values and the rules of international humanitarian law.”

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Naim also said he “firmly” rejected accusations of atrocities committed against babies. He said the media had printed “lies and Israeli propaganda.”

On Friday, the Gazan Health Ministry said 1,700 people had been killed by Israeli bombings. Of those, it claims around 500 were believed to be children.

Israeli officials meanwhile say at least 1,600 people have been killed.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said civilians need to be the priority during the conflict. He said: “Of course we should always — and we are always — having concerns of civilians paramount in our minds.

“It is something I’ve discussed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu myself and underlined with what the secretary of state from the United States (Antony Blinken) and the president (Joe Biden) have said, that of course Israel should take every possible precaution to protect civilians as they exercise their rightful ability to defend themselves against attacks like this.”

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