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Mohammed Deif: Elusive Hamas military chief defying Israel
Published Friday 01/08/2014 (updated) 02/08/2014 10:31
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(MaanImages/file)
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Hamas's top military commander Mohammed Deif, who has survived assassination attempts and defied the Middle East's most powerful forces, is proving a redoubtable foe for Israel in its latest incursion in Gaza.

As Israel presses its deadly offensive aimed at halting militant rocket fire and eliminating Hamas's tunnel network, Deif has warned there will be no truce in the Palestinian enclave until Israel ends its eight-year blockade.

Born in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in southern Gaza in 1965, Deif has been involved in Hamas's operations for more than 20 years, plotting suicide bombings inside Israel, kidnapping soldiers, firing rockets and helping plan the tunnels used to launch attacks.

He was appointed head of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, in 2002 after the death of his predecessor, Salah Shehade, in a raid.

But Deif had had a long yet shadowy career as a militant before then.

His involvement with the Islamist movement in Gaza began in the 1980s when, as a biology student close to the Muslim Brotherhood, he headed the Islamists' union at Gaza Islamic University.

With the eruption of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000, he escaped, or was freed, from a prison run by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

His escape -- or liberation, as it is unclear whether he was freed or not -- angered the Israelis, who had had him in their sights for more than a decade by then.

Shortly after he was named Hamas's military head, Israel launched its fifth bid to assassinate him in Gaza.

That attack left him severely wounded, and some rumors suggested he had been left paraplegic, although these were never confirmed, largely due to the secrecy surrounding the details of his life.

He delegated the leadership of the brigades to his deputy, Ahmed Jaabari, thus earning the nickname the "cat with nine lives" among his enemies, and cementing his reputation inside Gaza.

Master of disguise

Only a few, poor-quality photographs of Deif are known to exist, the most recent taken some 20 years ago.

His hiding place is unknown, and he is reported to be a master of disguise who is able to blend seemlessly into the population.

The mysterious commander also uses no technology that might allow the Israelis to track him, a Hamas official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

He may have learned caution from the death of his mentor, Yahya Ayash, who was killed in 1996 by a mobile telephone booby-trapped with explosives by Israeli secret services.

Deif's real name is Mohammed Diab al-Masri, and he owes his 'nom de guerre,' which is Arabic for guest, to his habit of constantly changing his location, the Hamas official said.

He described Deif as a man who is "polite, discreet, softly spoken" and fascinated by "military strategy."

The elusive leader's public statements are extremely rare. In 2012, he warned Israel against launching the operation "Pillar of Defense," which was aimed at halting rockets fired by militants in the Gaza Strip.

After the death of his mentor Ayash, who passed on his explosive-making expertise, he took on the role of "engineer for the Ezzedine al-Qassam brigades," the Israeli army says in its blog.

The Israelis see him as "the brains" behind the campaign of suicide bombings that targeted buses and public places in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem until 2006 and consider him "personally responsible for the deaths of dozens of civilians".

He also played a key role in the strategic development of Hamas, the Israelis say.

They claim that Deif was among the militants "who designed the Qassam rockets" -- the Islamist movement's signature weapon that had a range of eight kilometers (five miles) until Iran supplied them with more advanced weapons.
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1 ) Sylvia / US
01/08/2014 15:13
Hamas are so sexy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 ) Tibi / Tubas
01/08/2014 15:35
A TRUE HERO, Of The Palestinian People -
A Bomb & Rocket Maker, Forever In Hiding, who
- Targets Israel Civilians For Murder,
- Uses Gaza Civilians As Human-Shields, and
- Never Contributed Anything To Society !!!

3 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
01/08/2014 15:37
Deff will pay the price for his war crimes.

4 ) Mel / USA
01/08/2014 16:42
This is just another excuse to CARPET BOMB,MOONSCAPE Gaza which Israel wants to SQUEEZE tighter yet--hence the new"Buffer Zone"-squashing 1.8 MILLION civilians into an even-tighter coffin-box(like USG/proxy torture-techs in AfPak,Iraq)with a'tight lid'blockade(military land,sea,air&POVERTY economy).With or w/out Deif,Palestinian RESISTANCE WILL GO ON AGAINST ISRAEL'S OCCUPATION &collective punishment(war crimes),as ANY CIVILIAN RESISTANCE HAS A RIGHT TO DO(even Jewish in WW2).Palestine=RESIST!

5 ) Koys / USA
01/08/2014 16:52
Hey Brian, You seem to be very interested in bring war criminals to justice. Lets start with the child killing IDF. Or how about the dozens of UN resolutions that have been violated. Or how about we stop with the anti-semetic nonsense labels. Ashkenazi jews are not semites, you guys are Russians/eastern europeans). Wake up. The palestinians are the only semites in this war (and a few sephartics around). Call it what it is, Anti-Zionists not Anti-semite. Idiots!

6 ) Ruth / US
01/08/2014 17:20
Brian Boy one things for sure you will pay for your crimes against humanity you illegal European settler.

7 ) Mutassim / Palestine
01/08/2014 18:11
@1 - No offence Sylvia, but I don't think Hamas would be impressed by comments like that. You could try the IDF sites. They like women to degrade themselves by doing soft porn shots, whilst posing with guns & "I luv IDF" scrawled on their bodies. Palestinians are just that bit more reserved.

8 ) David / USA
01/08/2014 22:44
History lesson: The Hebrews have lived in the region for a thousand years before Mohammad and Islam ever took a breath. The Romans slaughtered many of the Jews because they didn't kiss Rome's ass, but many lived and stayed in the region slowly growing in numbers. As the centuries flew by, many nations conquered the region, the last being the ottoman empire. The place was a wasteland. The region was split up after WW1. Jews and Arabs had their sections. Arabs wouldn't live in peace.

9 ) David / USA
01/08/2014 22:52
Part 2. Muslims were butchering Jews long before the mandate- Jews were dhimmis, nothing more. Today's Arabs living in most of the area only came to the region in the last 80 years - after seeing how Jews were making the desert bloom. Maybe European Jews aren't long-timers here- but many Israeli families can trace their roots back 500 years in Palestine (as it was called) and Judea and Samaria. It's jihadist BS that keeps the fires burning- that dar al-Islam can never revert back to infidels.

10 ) Ronny / US
02/08/2014 12:38
David your fantasy piece of work is exactly that fantasy, you Europeans have lived and dwelled in your homeland for thousands of years and that is where you will return GERMANY!

11 ) Colin / Uk
02/08/2014 12:40
Bull David it was Muslims that welcomed and protected Arab Jews it is you European Zionists that killed the Arab Jews. Even today in Israel Arab Jews hold no prominence YOU ARE A LIAR

12 ) Kim / Everywhere
02/08/2014 15:56
Dear David. There have been people living in the region for about 10,000 years. They've just changed their religions as they've gone along, usually depending on who has been in power.

13 ) Hanan (Part 1) / Al Quds, Ps
02/08/2014 19:12
@11, Colin glad you were able to give a true account of Arabic history to David USA, who has clearly been influenced by the Zionist & US thought police. For those who are not aware, the concept of "dhimmi" is one who is protected in the Islamic state, by definition as a non Muslim. A “dhimmi” is therefore not obligated to fight for the state, when the state is called to practice "jihad". The concept of "jihad" has also been misrepresented; in the context of the state, it is a religious edict

14 ) Hanan (Part 2) / Al Quds, Ps
02/08/2014 19:14
which allows the Muslim armies to defend their lands against invasion or aggression. The idea that “jihad” is about waging war on “infidels”, almost certainly comes from the period of the Crusades. “Infidel” is a Latin word meaning not faithful. We know certainly from history that Jews, Christians & Muslims were able to live peacefully side by side in the Arab world & stood together, especially during this time & for many hundreds of years afterwards.
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