Mohammed Deif has returned as Hamas’ military chief amid the war with Israel.
Israel’s intelligence community has determined that Deif ended nearly a decade in the underground to resume his role as Hamas’ military chief. Officials said the community assessed that Deif returned to leadership months after the Israeli assassination of Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari in 2012.
“Deif is the only one with the authority to lead the terrorists,” an official said. “Those around him take care of the details and Deif approves them.”
On July 29, Deif, 50, broke nearly a decade of silence in a statement amid the Hamas war with Israel. In a broadcast, Deif dismissed any Hamas ceasefire unless Israel agreed to major political concessions.
“The occupying entity [Israel] will not enjoy security unless our people live in freedom and dignity,” Deif said. “There will be no ceasefire before the aggression is stopped and the blockade is lifted. We will not accept interim solutions.”
Deif has survived at least five assassination attempts by Israel. The sources said Deif was severely injured in the last Israeli air strike nearly a decade ago and remains confined to a wheelchair.
Deif was believed to have directed the daily Hamas operations in the war that began on July 8. They said Deif spent virtually all of his time in an underground bunker in communications with Hamas rocket and tunnel squads.
Deif was believed to have played a role in the 2012 mini-war with Israel. Hamas released a recording of Deif giving orders after Jabari’s death.
Israel’s military has been unable to target Deif in the current war. At one point, the Israel Air Force bombed his home in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis and two people were killed.
“For years, Mohammed Deif has been hiding in the tunnels underneath Gaza, and that is where he will remain because he’s a dead man,” Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid said on July 30.