As the Israel-Hamas conflict entered its fifth day, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) claimed to have targeted more than 200 locations in Gaza’s Al Furkan neighborhood. Among the targets was the residence of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif’s father. Tragically, several of his family members, including his father, brother, and children, lost their lives in Khan Yunis.
Mohammed Deif, a shadowy and highly sought-after figure, remains elusive as Israel bombed his father’s residence. The wheelchair-bound leader has been at the helm of Hamas’s military wing since 2002, and despite numerous attempts by Mossad to eliminate him, he has narrowly evaded capture each time.
But who is Mohammed Deif?
Little is known about Mohammed Deif, except that he was born in the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza in 1965, during a time when Gaza was under Egyptian control. He joined Hamas in the late 1980s, during the group’s early days, showing a strong commitment to armed resistance against Israel. This dedication quickly propelled him to a prominent role within Hamas’s military unit, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, according to a BBC profile from 2021.
Deif holds a science degree from the Islamic University in Gaza, where he studied physics, chemistry, and biology. Surprisingly, he displayed an interest in the arts and even headed the university’s entertainment committee, taking the stage in comedy performances.
Why is Deif referred to as ‘the cat with nine lives’?
Mohammed Deif has earned the moniker ‘the cat with nine lives’ due to his remarkable ability to survive multiple Israeli assassination attempts, several of which left him severely injured. Tragically, his wife, 7-month-old son, and 3-year-old daughter were killed in a 2014 Israeli airstrike.
In rare videos where he appears, Deif is consistently masked or remains in the shadows, never utilizing modern digital technologies like smartphones.
On a recent Saturday, Hamas launched an unprecedented and massive rocket attack on Israel. During this event, Mohammed Deif’s voice was purportedly heard in a video message. In the recording, Hamas attributed the attack to the 16-year blockade of Gaza. Deif, who seldom speaks and never appears in public, conveyed, “Today the rage of Al Aqsa, the rage of our people and nation, is exploding. Our mujahedeen (fighters), today is your day to make this criminal understand that his time has ended.”