The Hamas commander Israel couldn’t kill: How one-eyed, triple-amputee terror boss


It all started with an ominous voice ordering hundreds of Hamas terrorists over the border to launch a bloodthirsty assault on Israel that has seen more than 700 Israelis massacred so far. 

That sinister voice, broadcast to fighters across Gaza, belonged to one-eyed terror boss Mohammed Deif, 58, who has for years been the thorn in Israel’s side despite several assassination attempts.

This fearsome figure has made his way up the ranks of Hamas and somehow survived five assassination attempts that saw both of his legs and an arm blown off and his wife and two children killed.

And now, Deif, who was previously a bombmaker, has masterminded a carefully planned and deadly assault on Israel that has taken Israeli officials by surprise. He ordered the militants to use explosives and bulldozers to break through the fences surrounding Gaza to let hundreds more through. 

Deif came from nothing. He was born in the Khan Younis refugee camp in 1965 when Gaza was under Egyptian control but he was able to rise up the ranks of Hamas to launch Saturday’s attack, his most audacious and deadly yet.

His ability to survive countless assassination attempts and to outwit Israel’s military while ordering the slaughter of civilians and soldiers alike has made him something of a hero amongst Palestinian militants.

‘Even before this, Deif was like a sacred personality and very much respected both within Hamas and by the Palestinians,’ Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of politics at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, told the Financial Times.

'This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,' Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif said on Saturday, announcing the start of the operation in a broadcast on Hamas media and calling on Palestinians everywhere to fight

A video was released within hours of Saturday's attack on Israel, purporting to show, Mohammed Deif, 58, who is thought to have been behind the military specifics of the assault (File Photo)

‘This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,’ Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif said on Saturday, announcing the start of the operation in a broadcast on Hamas media and calling on Palestinians everywhere to fight

A Palestinian boy reacts next to a burning Israeli vehicle that Palestinian gunmen brought to Gaza after they infiltrated areas of southern Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip October 7, 2023

A Palestinian boy reacts next to a burning Israeli vehicle that Palestinian gunmen brought to Gaza after they infiltrated areas of southern Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip October 7, 2023

Dance festivalgoers run in fear after an attack on all-night trance music rave near Kibbutz Re'im, close to the Gaza Strip, on Saturday

Dance festivalgoers run in fear after an attack on all-night trance music rave near Kibbutz Re’im, close to the Gaza Strip, on Saturday 

His latest attack against Israel, which is on a scale not seen for 50 years, will now turn him into a figure ‘like a god to the young’ Abusada said.

And as soon as Deif’s voice emitted over the radio waves, they will have been primed and ready to launched the attack.

They will have listened in sickening anticipation as he said over the broadcast: ‘In light of the continuing crimes against our people, in light of the orgy of occupation and its denial of international laws and resolutions, and in light of American and western support, we’ve decided to put an end to all this.’

‘So that the enemy understands that he can no longer revel without being held to account,’ Deif added in the video where he remained in the shadows. 

For years, Deif has remained in the shadows and evaded frustrated Israel’s attempts to kill him for more than two decades – though he has been left paralysed as a result of the assassination attempts. 

There are only two known images of Deif, including a 30-year-old ID photo released by Israel, and even in Gaza, only a handful of people would recognise him. 

Indeed, his nom de guerre ‘Guest’ is considered a reference to the practice of Palestinian fighters spending each night at the property of a different sympathiser to stay out of the sights of Israeli intelligence.

His past is riddled with bomb attacks and the slaughter of hundreds of innocent civilians. Deif, as the commander of Hamas’s military wing Qassam Brigades, ordered terror attacks including bus bombings in Israel that killed hundreds. 

As a result Deif, also known as Abu Khaled, is by far Israel’s most wanted target in Gaza. Israel has tried to kill him five times – in 2001, 2002, 2006, 2014 and most recently in May 2021. 

Deif managed to escape the latest airstrikes unscathed – but the earlier attacks left him without an eye, cost him both legs and an arm, and killed his wife and two children.

The ominous figure has been described by those who know him as a quiet and intense man who has no interest in historic rivalries within Palestinian factions. Instead, he wants to change the Israeli-Arab conflict for good, using violence at every turn. 

The broadcast carried the message: 'In light of the continuing crimes against our people, in light of the orgy of occupation and its denial of international laws and resolutions, and in light of American and western support, we've decided to put an end to all this.'

The broadcast carried the message: ‘In light of the continuing crimes against our people, in light of the orgy of occupation and its denial of international laws and resolutions, and in light of American and western support, we’ve decided to put an end to all this.’

He has a taste for theatrics, as displayed by Saturday’s ominous video, which is said to have come from his time at an acting troupe he joined when he was at the Islamic University of Gaza. 

When Hamas was born in the late 1980s, Deif was in his 20s – and around that time, he was imprisoned by Israeli forces. 

‘From the beginning of his life in Hamas, he was focused on the military track,’ Ghazi Hamad, who shared a prison cell with Deif, told the Financial Times. ‘He was very kind, all the time a patriot who would make little cartoons to make us laugh.’

But any hint of kindness soon disappeared, with Deif accused of killing more than 50 civilians in a wave of suicide bomb attacks in 1996. He also helped with the creation of Hamas’s first rockets, which are now in the thousands. 

An Israeli official familiar with the commander’s security file said that either Deif’s uncle or father in the 1950s raids by armed Palestinians into the same area of land that Deif’s fighters infiltrated on Saturday.

Along with others in the Hamas, Deif considers the Oslo Accords, which briefly promised a negotiated peace settlement in the late 1990s, as betraying its resistance and the original aim to replace Israel with a Palestinian state.

‘Deif has tried to start the second war of Israeli independence,’ said Eyal Rosen, a colonel in the Israeli army’s reserves who in a previous role concentrated on the Gaza Strip.

‘The main goal is — by steps — to destroy Israel. This is one of the first steps — this is just the beginning.’

Gunmen from the Palestinian group Hamas rampaged through Israeli towns on Saturday, killing hundreds of Israelis and escaping with dozens of hostages in by far the deadliest day of violence in Israel since the Yom Kippur war 50 years ago.

A man runs in the road as fires burn in Ashkelon, Israel, following rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip initiated by Islamic militant group Hamas

A man runs in the road as fires burn in Ashkelon, Israel, following rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip initiated by Islamic militant group Hamas

Smoke billows from a building in Gaza after Israel fired missiles in response to Palestinian air strikes earlier on Saturday

Smoke billows from a building in Gaza after Israel fired missiles in response to Palestinian air strikes earlier on Saturday 

Palestinians use an excavator to break through the border fence separating the occupied Gaza Strip from Israel

Palestinians use an excavator to break through the border fence separating the occupied Gaza Strip from Israel

A rocket is fired from within Gaza City after Israeli forces began launching airstrikes in response to the Hamas offensive on Saturday

A rocket is fired from within Gaza City after Israeli forces began launching airstrikes in response to the Hamas offensive on Saturday

Men believed to be Palestinian militants are seen riding an Israeli military vehicle after reportedly seizing it close to the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip

Men believed to be Palestinian militants are seen riding an Israeli military vehicle after reportedly seizing it close to the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip

A man runs in the road as fires burn in Ashkelon, Israel, following rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip initiated by Islamic militant group Hamas

A man runs in the road as fires burn in Ashkelon, Israel, following rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip initiated by Islamic militant group Hamas

The mass raid in the early hours of Saturday has left least 700 people dead in Israel, and another 1,200 people wounded, many critically.

‘This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,’ said Deif, who is behind a decades-long campaign against the Jewish state, announcing the start of the operation in a broadcast on Hamas media and calling on Palestinians everywhere to fight.

Deif said the assault on Saturday was in response to the 16-year blockade of Gaza, Israeli raids inside West Bank cities over the past year, violence at Al Aqsa – the disputed Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews as the Temple Mount – increasing attacks by settlers on Palestinians and growth of settlements.

‘Enough is enough,’ Deif, who does not appear in public, said in the recorded message.

He said the attack was only the start of what he called Operation Al-Aqsa Storm and called on Palestinians from east Jerusalem to northern Israel to join the fight.

He said: ‘Today the people are regaining their revolution.’ 



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