Mohammed Deif, a name associated with the Palestinian resistance and the recent “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood,” holds an air of mystery. Dubbed one of the most formidable commanders, Deif’s resilience is evident as he has evaded seven assassination attempts, drawing unsettling comparisons to the likes of Osama Bin Laden.
A Life on the Run
Holding the title of Israel’s “Most Wanted Man” for years, Deif’s encounters have been difficult, resulting in significant physical losses. Despite losing his limbs and an eye, Deif’s spirit remains undeterred. He navigates the challenges by seeking shelter within Gaza’s underground tunnels, which he contributed to planning. His safety measures include continually shifting between safe houses. A reflection of his nomadic lifestyle, he changed his birth name, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, to “Deif,” translating to “The Guest” in Arabic. The mere existence of a single photograph of him further accentuates his elusive nature.
The Voice Behind The Assault
Amid the recent upheaval, Deif made his presence felt through a recording. His message was clear and unsettling as his fighters made strategic moves within Israel. He advocated for expelling “occupiers,” urged Palestinians to join the cause, and appealed to international sympathizers, hinting at a possible multinational rebellion.
A Growing Influence
Deif became involved with Hamas in the early 1990s. He quickly ascended through the ranks, thanks to his deep involvement in planning and executing attacks against Israeli targets. By the mid-1990s, he was overseeing Hamas’s military operations.
With each passing operation, Deif’s influence seems to amplify. Mkhaimar Abusada, a renowned political professor from Gaza’s Al-Azhar University, foresees Deif’s stature growing, especially among the youth. His increasing prominence and actions have led to comparisons with Osama Bin Laden, casting him as a formidable antagonist.
In one Israeli assassination attempt in 2014, Deif’s wife and two children were killed when their house was bombed. However, Deif survived.
Deif has been credited with several tactical shifts within Hamas, especially regarding their use of tunnel warfare. He has also upgraded the group’s missile capabilities, significantly improving range and accuracy.
Deif’s personal life or whereabouts is little known, making him an elusive figure. His location remains a secret, and he rarely makes public appearances or statements, making him somewhat of a ghostly figure within the Palestinian territories.
While Israel and its allies view Deif as a terrorist responsible for the deaths of numerous civilians, many Palestinians see him as a freedom fighter and a hero of the resistance against Israeli occupation.
Deif has been on Israel’s most-wanted list for decades, and there’s a substantial reward for information leading to his capture. Internationally, his status varies, but many countries aligned with Israel also classify him as a terrorist.
Mohammed Deif remains one of the most enigmatic and controversial figures in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His long tenure and survival against multiple assassination attempts have made him a legend among his supporters and a significant target for his adversaries.