Mohammed Deif, the man in the shadows behind the Hamas attack on Israel

Israel called Hamas’ devastating attack last week a 9/11 moment. The secret mastermind behind the attack Mohammed Deif, calling it the Al Aqsa Flood. The words of Israel’s most wanted man in an audio recording broadcast when Hamas fired thousands of rockets from the Gaza strip on Saturday, October 7, 2023, suggested the attack was in response to Israel’s attack on the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
It happened in May 2021, after a raid on Islam’s third holiest site angered the Arab and Muslim world. Deif began planning the operation that has killed 1,200 people in Israel and injured more than 2,700, sources close to Hamas said.
More than two years later, Saturday’s attack, the worst lapse in Israeli defense since the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict, prompted Israel to declare war and launch retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza that have killed 1,055 people and injured more than 5,000.

Israel also said on Wednesday that it had killed at least 1,000 Palestinian gunmen who had infiltrated from Gaza.

A survivor of seven Israeli assassination attempts, the most recent in 2021, Deif rarely speaks and has never appeared in public. So when the Hamas TV channel announced that he would speak on Saturday, Palestinians knew that something important was happening.

Palestinian sources said one of the houses hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza belonged to Deif’s father.

One Mastermind, Two Brains

but it was clear who the architect was. The secrecy was such that Iran, Israel’s arch enemy and an important source of finance, training and weapons for Hamas, knew only in general terms that the movement was planning a major operation and did not know the timing or details, regional sources knew.

The source said that although Tehran knew that a major operation was being prepare, it was not discusse in the joint operations room involving Hamas, the Palestinian leadership, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant Hezbollah and Iran.

Iran’s top authority Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that Tehran was not involve in attacks on Israel. Washington said that although Tehran was involve, it had no intelligence or evidence to suggest direct Iranian involvement in the attack.
The plan devised by Deif involved a prolonged attempt at deception. Israel is led to believe that Hamas, an ally of Israel’s archenemy Iran, is not interest in waging a conflict and is instead focuse on economic development in Gaza, where the movement is a governing force.

But as Israel began providing economic incentives to Gaza workers, the group’s fighters were traine, often in full view of the Israeli military, a source close to Hamas said.

We have been preparing for this battle for two years,” said Ali Baraka, Hamas’ head of external relations.

Speaking in a calm voice, Deif said in his recording that Hamas had repeat warn Israel to stop its crimes against Palestinians, to release prisoners, whom he said were being abuse and torture, and to stop grabbing Palestinian land. At the same time, they confiscated thousands of hectares of our land, driving our people from their homes to build their settlement houses while the criminal siege continues on Gaza.”

For more than a year, there has been chaos in the West Bank, an area about 100 km long and 50 km wide that has at the center of Deif said Hamas had urg the international community to end the “crime of occupation”, but Israel had stepped up its provocations. He also said Hamas had in the past asked Israel to make a humanitarian deal to free Palestinian prisoners, but was reject.

Born Mohammad Masri in 1965 in the Khan Yunis Refugee Camp founded after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the militant leader became known as Mohammed Deif after joining Hamas during the He was captured by Israel in 1989 and spent about 16 months in detention, Hamas sources said.

Deif earned a degree in science from the Islamic University of Gaza, where he studied physics, chemistry and biology.

He showed interest in the arts, chairing the university’s entertainment committee and performing on the comedy stage.

Deif developed the group’s tunnel network and his bomb-making skills led him to rise to positions within Hamas. He topped Israel’s most wanted list for decades, and was personally responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings.

For Deif, remaining in the shadows is a matter of life or death. Hamas sources said he lost an eye and suffered serious injuries to one of his legs in one of the Israeli assassination attempts. His tenacity while leading Hamas’ armed wing earned him the status of a hero of the Palestinian people. In the video he is masked, or only his reflection is visible

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