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Live blog update| Israel's war on Gaza

Hamas official: Plan was take over Israeli army's southern command

A senior Hamas official said on Thursday that the Palestinian group did not attack civilians and the plan behind Saturday's incursion was a military takeover of the Israeli army's southern command.

Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, said the deaths of civilians was the result of chaos caused by the rapid collapse of the Israeli army, which led to people getting caught in the cross fire.

"The instructions from the al-Qassam military command was to target the Israeli army's Gaza division and to not harm civilians and children," Arouri said in an interview with Al Jazeera Arabic.

He added that the entire division collapsed within three hours, which was faster than they expected.

This, he said, caused an unplanned influx of Palestinian civilians into Israeli territory.

The sudden collapse of Israeli forces and the mass entry of Palestinian civilians led to clashes in civilian areas, he claimed.

Many people then got caught in the crossfire and Palestinian civilians took Israeli civilians hostage, which was also not part of the plan, according to Arouri.

Israel has accused Hamas of deliberately killing and abducting civilians in their attack.

Middle East Eye could not independently confirm either claim.Verifiable information about the first few hours of the attack are largely unavailable.

In his interview, Arouri rejected what he described as false news about the group's goals and conduct."

The West accuses us of committing crimes against humanity but ignores that the war against us was based on targeting civilians. Americans talk about morals and they are the ones who destroyed an entire people and established a state on their land and used the nuclear bombs on other people," Arouri said.

"The American and Western position is an extension of their first crime in supporting the occupation and the confiscation of our land and rights. Fascism, Nazism and all the barbaric ideologies that committed genocides came from the West and not from our region, what came from our region was faiths."