The man who organised the deadly assault on Israel over the weekend is scantly known as Mohammed Deif.
Born in 1965, his real name is also unknown, although several media outlets suggest it is Mohammed al-Masri. Other details about Deif’s life are scarce.
“Deif” is, in fact, an Arabic twister that translates literally to “guest”.
“It’s a reference to the fact he doesn’t stay more than one night in the same place to avoid being caught by Israel,” one security expert said.
Deif was born in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in southern Gaza in the 1960s, according to an Israeli intelligence.
Deif studied at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he frequented members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas would later become an offshoot.
Mr Deif joined the Islamist organisation in the late 1980s with the help of Yahya Ayyash – known as “the Engineer” – one of Hamas’s main explosives experts with whom “Deif was very close”.
Deif only Understands Military Solution against Israel
Deif’s ideology is about making any purely political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.“His philosophy is about a military solution to the conflict,” according to a security expert.
He was appointed head of the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades in 2002 after Hamas’ main explosives expert Yahya Ayyash’s assassination by Israeli intelligence services in 1996.
In response to Israel’s fortifying the border with walls, Deif developed Hamas’s ‘below and above strategy’, meaning digging tunnels for Hamas militants to go into Israel and sending rockets.
His method of operation has “always been to directly hit Israeli territory by any means possible to make it pay the highest price for its treatment of the population in Gaza.
According to emerging details after the October 7 surprise attack on Israel leading to the death of more than 1200 Israelis and wounding over 3000, Deif planned this operation for one year and there have been no leaks.
“The fact that Hamas planned this operation for a year – according to the latest estimations – without any information leaking speaks to the loyalty the select few who were involved in the planning of the operation have to Deif,” says mri Brinner, an Israel and Middle East analyst at the International Team for the Study of Security Verona (ITSS).
The Saturday operation has gone down in history as the most successful in the history of Palestinian resistance.
Mohammed Deif has been on Israel’s ‘most wanted’ list for nearly three decades and has escaped multiple assassination attempts.
His ability to evade Israeli intelligence services has earned him the nickname “the man with nine lives”.
The trick to survival lies in remaining hidden. The only official photo of Deif in circulation is over twenty years old.
However, he is far from unscathed. Deif is said to have lost his sight, one arm, and one leg after an Israeli attack in 2006.