Mohammed Deif

Mohammed Deif, born Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, is the leader of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. He has been on Israel’s “most wanted” list for more than 20 years. Deif’s mentor was Yeha Ayyash, “the engineer” renowned for building Hamas bombs and other weaponry.“Profile: Hamas Commander Mohammed Deif,” BBC News, September 26, 2002, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2284055.stm.

According to the al-Qassam Brigades’ website, Deif’s real name is “Mohammed Diab.” The website claims that he chose the name “Deif” because it means “guest” —an appropriate title for a man who moves “from village to village and from place to place” under the constant lookout of Israeli security forces.Jethro Mullen and Brian Todd, “Gaza Crisis: Who’s Who in Hamas,” CNN, July 31, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/15/world/meast/hamas-leaders-whos-who/.

Israeli authorities credit Deif with masterminding al-Qassam’s rocket launching techniques, as well as the suicide bus bombings, soldier kidnappings, and tunnel-digging techniques. Sudarsan Raghavan, “Mohammed Deif, the shadowy figure who heads Hamas’s military wing,” Washington Post, August 2, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/mohammed-deif-the-shadowy-figure-who-heads-hamass-military-wing/2014/08/02/ed68c46e-1a85-11e4-85b6-c1451e622637_story.html. Many view Deif as a major obstacle to peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. During the Gaza-Israel war in the summer of 2014, Deif was responsible for launching attacks during humanitarian ceasefires. Sudarsan Raghavan, “Mohammed Deif, the shadowy figure who heads Hamas’s military wing,” Washington Post, August 2, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/mohammed-deif-the-shadowy-figure-who-heads-hamass-military-wing/2014/08/02/ed68c46e-1a85-11e4-85b6-c1451e622637_story.html. According to retired General Giora Eiland of the Israel Defense Forces, Deif “is against the cease-fire because he believes every day they continue to fight is another achievement for them.” Sudarsan Raghavan, “Mohammed Deif, the shadowy figure who heads Hamas’s military wing,” Washington Post, August 2, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/mohammed-deif-the-shadowy-figure-who-heads-hamass-military-wing/2014/08/02/ed68c46e-1a85-11e4-85b6-c1451e622637_story.html.

According to Imad Falouji, a former senior Hamas leader, Deif is “very quiet. He keeps a low profile and lives hidden among the population. He moves with different passports and different identities…. He’s successful until now because the circle around him is very small. That is why he is still alive.” Sudarsan Raghavan, “Mohammed Deif, the shadowy figure who heads Hamas’s military wing,” Washington Post, August 2, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/mohammed-deif-the-shadowy-figure-who-heads-hamass-military-wing/2014/08/02/ed68c46e-1a85-11e4-85b6-c1451e622637_story.html. Ehud Yaari, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, agrees: “Deif has been in a position of power the entire time," he said. "Some may not have noticed it because he has been hiding in the shadows.”Nidal al-Mughrabi and Mayaan Lubell, “Has Hamas military chief, Mohammed Deif, escaped death again?” Reuters, August 20, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/20/us-mideast-gaza-deif-idUSKBN0GK1OW20140820.

Deif has been the target of Israeli airstrikes on numerous occasions, and has escaped each time, although not unharmed. He is partially paralyzed and wheelchair-bound, with only one arm and one eye. Sudarsan Raghavan, “Mohammed Deif, the shadowy figure who heads Hamas’s military wing,” Washington Post, August 2, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/mohammed-deif-the-shadowy-figure-who-heads-hamass-military-wing/2014/08/02/ed68c46e-1a85-11e4-85b6-c1451e622637_story.html. Israel’s most recent targeted airstrike against Deif in the summer of 2014 resulted in the death of Deif’s wife and their two children.Nidal al-Mughrabi and Mayaan Lubell, “Has Hamas military chief, Mohammed Deif, escaped death again?” Reuters, August 20, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/20/us-mideast-gaza-deif-idUSKBN0GK1OW20140820.

 
United States

The U.S. Department of State designated “Muhammed Deif” a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on September 8, 2015.“Terrorist Designations of Yahya Sinwar, Rawhi Mushtaha, and Muhammed Deif,” U.S. Department of State, September 8, 2015, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/09/246686.htm.

Israel

Listed on Israel’s “most wanted” list in 1995.Amos Harel, “Who Is Mohammed Deif?” Haaretz, April 10, 2018, https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-who-is-mohammed-deif-1.5260209.

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