Terror boss survived assassination attempts before Israel massacre

The Hamas commander Israel couldn’t kill: How one-eyed, triple-amputee terror boss Mohammed Deif survived multiple assassination attempts and an airstrike that left him wheelchair-bound before ordering Israel massacre

  • Audio was released within hours of Saturday’s attack on Israel, accompanied by an image purporting to show Mohammed Deif

It all started with an ominous voice ordering hundreds of Hamas terrorists over the border to launch a bloodthirsty assault on Israel that has seen more than 700 Israelis massacred so far. 

That sinister voice, broadcast to fighters across Gaza, belonged to one-eyed terror boss Mohammed Deif, 58, who has for years been the thorn in Israel’s side despite several assassination attempts.

This fearsome figure has made his way up the ranks of Hamas and somehow survived five assassination attempts that saw both of his legs and arm blown off and his wife and two children killed.

And now, Deif, who was previously a bombmaker, has masterminded a carefully planned and deadly assault on Israel that has taken Israeli officials by surprise. He ordered the militants to use explosives and bulldozers to break through the fences surrounding Gaza to let hundreds more through. 

Deif came from nothing. He was born in the Khan Younis refugee camp in 1965 when Gaza was under Egyptian control but he was able to rise up the ranks of Hamas to launch Saturday’s attack, his most audacious and deadly yet.

His ability to survive countless assassination attempts and to outwit Israel’s military while ordering the slaughter of civilians and soldiers alike has made him something of a hero amongst Palestinian militants.

‘Even before this, Deif was like a sacred personality and very much respected both within Hamas and by the Palestinians,’ Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of politics at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, told the Financial Times.

‘This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,’ Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif said on Saturday, announcing the start of the operation in a broadcast on Hamas media and calling on Palestinians everywhere to fight

A Palestinian boy reacts next to a burning Israeli vehicle that Palestinian gunmen brought to Gaza after they infiltrated areas of southern Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip October 7, 2023

Dance festivalgoers run in fear after an attack on all-night trance music rave near Kibbutz Re’im, close to the Gaza Strip, on Saturday 

His latest attack against Israel, which is on a scale not seen for 50 years, will now turn him into a figure ‘like a god to the young’ Abusada said.

And as soon as Deif’s voice emitted over the radio waves, they will have been primed and ready to launched the attack.

They will have listened in sickening anticipation as he said over the broadcast: ‘In light of the continuing crimes against our people, in light of the orgy of occupation and its denial of international laws and resolutions, and in light of American and western support, we’ve decided to put an end to all this.’

‘So that the enemy understands that he can no longer revel without being held to account,’ Deif added in the video where he remained in the shadows. 

For years, Deif has remained in the shadows and evaded frustrated Israel’s attempts to kill him for more than two decades – though he has been left paralysed as a result of the assassination attempts. 

There are only two known images of Deif, including a 30-year-old ID photo released by Israel, and even in Gaza, only a handful of people would recognise him. 

Indeed, his nom de guerre ‘Guest’ is considered a reference to the practice of Palestinian fighters spending each night at the property of a different sympathiser to stay out of the sights of Israeli intelligence.

His past is riddled with bomb attacks and the slaughter of hundreds of innocent civilians. Deif, as the commander of Hamas’s military wing Qassam Brigades, ordered terror attacks including bus bombings in Israel that killed hundreds. 

As a result Deif, also known as Abu Khaled, is by far Israel’s most wanted target in Gaza. Israel has tried to kill him five times – in 2001, 2002, 2006, 2014 and most recently in May 2021. 

Deif managed to escape the latest airstrikes unscathed – but the earlier attacks left him without an eye, cost him both legs and an arm, and killed his wife and two children.

The ominous figure has been described by those who know him as a quiet and intense man who has no interest in historic rivalries within Palestinian factions. Instead, he wants to change the Israeli-Arab conflict for good, using violence at every turn. 

Gunmen from the Palestinian group Hamas rampaged through Israeli towns on Saturday, killing hundreds of Israelis and escaping with dozens of hostages in by far the deadliest day of violence in Israel since the Yom Kippur war 50 years ago.

The mass raid in the early hours of Saturday has left least 700 people dead in Israel, and another 1,200 people wounded, many critically.

‘This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,’ said Deif, who is behind a decades-long campaign against the Jewish state, announcing the start of the operation in a broadcast on Hamas media and calling on Palestinians everywhere to fight.

Deif said the assault on Saturday was in response to the 16-year blockade of Gaza, Israeli raids inside West Bank cities over the past year, violence at Al Aqsa – the disputed Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews as the Temple Mount – increasing attacks by settlers on Palestinians and growth of settlements.

‘Enough is enough,’ Deif, who does not appear in public, said in the recorded message.

He said the attack was only the start of what he called Operation Al-Aqsa Storm and called on Palestinians from east Jerusalem to northern Israel to join the fight.

He said: ‘Today the people are regaining their revolution.’

Israel, who have been chasing Deif for decades, twice tried and failed to kill Hamas’s top military commander in May 2021 but he survived both attacks, a spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces said.

Few photographs of the elusive figure exist in the public domain.

In interviews, Palestinian and Israeli analysts, including people who knew Deif before he disappeared from the public eye, described him as a quiet, intense man, expressing no interest in the destructive rivalries of Palestinian factions.

They said he was single-minded about altering the nature of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and using violence as a means to achieve it.

Deif, commander of Hamas’s Qassam Brigades which have previously carried out terror attacks, including bus bombings in Israel, was targeted during strikes in Gaza in May 2021 but escaped unscathed, the IDF says.

The IDF had previously tried to kill Deif. There were strikes in 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2014.

A man runs in the road as fires burn in Ashkelon, Israel, following rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip initiated by Islamic militant group Hamas

Smoke billows from a building in Gaza after Israel fired missiles in response to Palestinian air strikes earlier on Saturday 

Palestinians use an excavator to break through the border fence separating the occupied Gaza Strip from Israel

A rocket is fired from within Gaza City after Israeli forces began launching airstrikes in response to the Hamas offensive on Saturday

Men believed to be Palestinian militants are seen riding an Israeli military vehicle after reportedly seizing it close to the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip

A man runs in the road as fires burn in Ashkelon, Israel, following rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip initiated by Islamic militant group Hamas

Seven other senior Hamas commanders were also targeted in strikes, a military spokesman added, saying that some were injured but all survived.

Among the targets was the home of Yahya Sinwar, dubbed the ‘butcher of Khan Younis’ – Hamas’s leader in Gaza and creator of the brigade which Deif leads.

His home was destroyed, though he is not thought to have been in it at the time.

The IDF began giving away details of its ‘hit list’ as commanders called for more time to continue the hunt amid growing pressure for a ceasefire at the time.

An Israeli official familiar with his file at the Shin Bet intelligence service told the Financial Times that either Deif’s uncle or father had been involved in the sporadic 1950s raids by armed Palestinians into the same area of land that Deif’s fighters infiltrated on Saturday.

Along with others in the Hamas, Deif considers the Oslo Accords, which briefly promised a negotiated peace settlement in the late 1990s, as betraying its resistance and the original aim to replace Israel with a Palestinian state.

‘Deif has tried to start the second war of Israeli independence,’ said Eyal Rosen, a colonel in the Israeli army’s reserves who in a previous role concentrated on the Gaza Strip.

‘The main goal is — by steps — to destroy Israel. This is one of the first steps — this is just the beginning.’

Source: Read Full Article