Mohammed Deif, the commander of Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, has been killed in an Israeli airstrike that also claimed the lives of his wife and infant son, according to mixed reports out of Israel and Gaza.
In a clip from a recorded Zuhri address in Arabic, Hamas spokesman Sami abu-Zuhri referred to Deif as “shahid,” a word that refers to a Muslim martyr, suggesting that the Hamas military leader is dead. Abu-Zuhri immediately corrected himself and said “Mohammed Deif” instead, according to Gal Berger, Arabic affairs correspondent for Voice of Israel Radio.
Hamas official Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook (Maan news agency): Mohammed Deif is alive. (must say I get opposite indications)— Gal Berger (@galberger) August 20, 2014
Further suspicion that Deif was dead came when Hamas’s military operation said it will “make an important announcement” on Wednesday evening, but did not mention Deif by name, Reuters reports.
However, multiple news reports suggest that Deif may still be alive and survived the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) airstrike that killed 11 Palestinians in Gaza yesterday. Hamas said Deif is still “alive and well” after the airstrike, Arutz Sheva reports.
But Israeli sources are convinced Deif is dead. “If there had been intelligence that Mohammed Deif was not in that house, we would not have blown it up,” Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Perry told Israel’s Army Radio. “With the assumption that Israel was behind this, it shows its intelligence capabilities…and it is an important indication that no head of the Hamas military wing is immune to a targeted killing.”
Deif has survived multiple assassination attempts over the past decade and has been left badly disfigured. He has spent most of his time in recent years overseeing the vast network of Hamas attack tunnels under Israel, Reuters reports.