What Role Did Ordinary Palestinians Play on Oct. 7?

Written by Jack Elbaum

What’s happening: In the months following Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack, the role that some Palestinian civilians and even U.N. workers played in the attack became increasingly clear.

The details: Videos show hundreds of Gaza’s civilians infiltrating the Israel border alongside Hamas. Some engaged in looting, while others abducted Israelis and committed acts of terror.

  • Celebrations: Thousands of people celebrated in the streets during the attack. After the bodies of dead Israelis were brought into Gaza, scores of civilians spit on them, beat their bodies, and jeered.

Inside knowledge: Extremely detailed maps of kibbutzim were found on dead Hamas terrorists, suggesting that Gazans who held Israeli work permits provided meticulous details about border towns to Hamas.

  • Anecdotes: Some captured Israeli hostages were held in the residences of Gazan civilians — some of whom were U.N. workers.

The numbers: 72 percent of Palestinians support Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, which resulted in 1,200 murdered Israelis and 240 hostages. After the attack, support for Hamas rose in Gaza to 52 percent and tripled in the West Bank to 85 percent.

  • Important: Israel is not exempt from complying with the rules of International Humanitarian Law as it relates to civilian casualties.

Why it matters: The U.S. is pressing hard for a two-state solution. However, this option isn’t viable if groups like Hamas can garner enough support among Palestinians to prioritize fighting Israel over building a prosperous society.