Mohammed Deif is a Palestinian militant and the supreme military commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. He has been the Israeli military’s ‘most wanted’ man since 1995. He became the most prominent Hamas fighter after Israel killed Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades leader Salah Shehadeh in July 2002.
Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri was born in Khan Younis in the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip in 1965 (age 58 years; as of 2023). At the time of his birth, his mother was living in the Khan Younis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, which was established after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. He came from a low-income background and had to leave school temporarily to support his family. He initially worked with his father in the textile and upholstery industry, later setting up a poultry farm and taking up a job as a driver. Mohammed’s association with the Hamas movement began in late 1987. Later, he returned to school and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Islamic University in Gaza (1988). He studied subjects like Physics, Chemistry and Biology. He loved the arts and was in charge of the university’s entertainment committee. Mohammed created the Islamic theater group Al-Aydun and acted in various plays. While studying biology at the Islamic University, he became head of the Muslim Brotherhood student union, leading to the founding of Hamas in 1987. For decades, he stays in different houses each night to avoid being tracked and killed by Israel. Due to his nomadic lifestyle, he became known as Mohammed Deif or El Deif, which means The Guest in Arabic.
parents and siblings
He was born in al-Qubayba to a Palestinian refugee family who were forced to leave their village during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Deif’s mother died in January 2011. In 2023, Mohammed Deif’s brother Abd al-Fattah Deif was killed in an Israeli airstrike on their father’s home.
wife and children
In 2011, she married Widad Asfora. Together, they had two children, a daughter named Sara and a son named Ali. Widad, Ali and Sara were killed in an airstrike in 2014. At that time Sara was three years old and Ali was a 7 month old infant.
He is the leader of Hamas, which is an Islamic organization.
In 1987, following the outbreak of the First Intifada against Israel, Hamas was founded by Palestinian imam and activist Ahmed Yassin. The First Intifada was an ongoing series of protests and violent riots by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and in Israel in frustration with Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 1989, Israel detained Deif, imprisoning him for 16 months without trial for his alleged involvement in the movement’s military activities. In 1990, Deif joined Hamas through his longtime associates Yahya Ayyash and Adnan al-Ghoul. Hamas is a Sunni Islamist political and military organization that rules the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip.
In mid-1991, Mohammed and his associates established a military wing of Hamas called the al-Qassam Brigades. The al-Qassam Brigades were protesting against the peace process pursued by Yasser Arafat, then leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the 1993 Oslo Accords, which were supposed to pave the way for a two-state solution for a peaceful new Palestine. With Israel. As a result, Deif organized countless terrorist attacks against Israel in the 90s to derail the peace process, killing many. In 1994, Deif played a key role in the kidnapping and murder of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers Shahar Simani, Aryeh Frankenthal, and Nachshon Wachsman. Deif learned the skill of assembling IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) from his mentor Yahya Ayyash, who was assassinated in 1995. After Ayyash’s death in 1995, Deif began working as an “engineer” in the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed force. Wing. In 1996, Deif masterminded the Jaffa Road bus bombings in Jerusalem, in which Hamas suicide bombers blew up two buses using explosives devised by Adnan Avul, killing about 45 people. Five suicide bombers he sent into Israel in March 2000 were killed by Israel’s national counterterrorism unit Yamam. Deif was arrested by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s security forces in May 2000. He escaped from jail in December 2000. In 2002, he took over as commander of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades following the assassination of Salah Shehadeh by Israel.
As Israeli and Egyptian control over Gaza’s borders tightened over time, Hamas developed military means such as rockets to retaliate. Deif is considered the co-designer of the Qassam rocket. In 2005, video of Deiff surfaced on the Internet in which he promised “hell” for Israel after its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. He said,
Today you have come out of the hell of Gaza in shame, but not completely out, because you continue to occupy Palestine… We say to the Zionists who have disgraced our land, we Tell you that the whole of Palestine will become a hell.
In 2006, an Israeli F16 aircraft attacked a house where senior Hamas leaders were holding a meeting, causing serious spinal injuries to Deif. Following this incident, Ahmed Jabri assumed the role of acting commander for the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing. On September 8, 2015, the United States Department of State added Daif to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. In 2021, Deaf sent a clear and final warning that if Israel evicts dozens of Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Hamas “will not stand by helplessly and the enemy will pay a heavy price.” In 2023, Deif plotted a series of coordinated attacks called the “Al-Aqsa Flood”. Nearly 5,000 rockets were launched against Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Additionally, 2,500 Palestinian militants breached the Gaza–Israel barrier, massacred and set fire to civilian communities, and attacked IDF military positions near the Gaza Strip.
attempt to kill def
As of 2023, Deif had managed to survive seven assassination attempts over the course of 20 years, including five Israeli airstrikes. In 2001, Israel attempted to assassinate Deaf for the first time. It is believed that he lost an eye in the first assassination attempt on his life, and in the next attempt, he lost a part of his arm, leaving him disabled. There were reports of his death in an Israeli airstrike on 27 September 2002, but an Israeli intelligence officer soon confirmed that he survived the attack. On July 12, 2006, an Israeli F16 aircraft attacked a residence where senior Hamas officials were holding a meeting. Deiff managed to survive the explosion but suffered serious injuries to his spinal cord. On August 19, 2014, an airstrike by the Israeli Air Force on a house in Sheikh Radwan’s neighborhood in Gaza City killed his wife, his 7-month-old son, and his 3-year-old daughter. Amid the events of Operation Guardian of the Walls in May 2021, reports indicated that Israeli forces made two attempts to assassinate Deif within a week, yet on both occasions, he narrowly escaped death at the eleventh hour.
- In February 2006, Israeli media reportedly reported that Def, dissatisfied with the ceasefire declared by Hamas, considered leaving Hamas to join newly formed al-Qaeda groups in the Gaza Strip. However, the Azadine al-Qassam Brigades denied the move.
- After Deaf’s wife, Widad Asfora, was killed in an airstrike in 2014, Deaf’s mother-in-law said she would be honored if Deaf would marry her two other daughters. He said,
If Deaf requests for any other daughter of mine, I will gladly consent and if she too is martyred, I will consent for the third. It would be an honor for Deif to be a husband to any of my daughters and be a father to their children.”
- He is often referred to as the “Cat of Nine Lives” for surviving several assassination attempts on his life. His other names also include Abu Khalid.