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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


In the wake of Hamas’ attack on Israel, news organizations reported that Hamas members comprise about 30,000 of the 2 million people in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a Palestinian group that is designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023, attacked Israel, a U.S. ally, which in turn declared war.

Hamas said it has 40,000 fighters, while Israel said the force is about 30,000, according to The Associated Press.

Hamas’ fighters number 30,000 to 40,000 fighters, Axios reported.

The CIA estimated the force at 20,000 to 25,000.

Palestinians have not voted for a legislature since 2006, nor a president since 2008, according to PBS.

In an Oct. 25 interview, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, who represents the Madison area, said that the vast majority of people in Gaza are not part of Hamas and that Israel should more carefully target its attacks.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


City Cast Madison: Rep. Pocan on What the Mess in Congress Means for Us

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency: The World Factbook

U.S. Department of State: Foreign Terrorist Organizations

New York Times: Here’s a timeline of Saturday’s attacks and Israel’s retaliation

U.S. Department of State: Major Non-NATO Ally Status

AP News: Israel declares war, bombards Gaza and battles to dislodge Hamas fighters after surprise attack

AP News: What is Hamas? The group that rules the Gaza Strip has fought several rounds of war with Israel

Axios: What to know about Hamas’ military capabilities

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency: Gaza Strip

PBS: What is Hamas? What to know about its origins, leaders and funding

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for Milwaukee Magazine and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.