Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech during Friday prayers at a makeshift tent erected near the remains of a mosque in Gaza City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ deputy political bureau chief in Gaza, said on Wednesday that his organization was vindicated by Israel’s acknowledgment that its longtime target, military wing commander Mohammed Deif, was still alive and active.
“The fact that the occupation confirmed that the general commander of the Al-Kassam Brigades is alive and engaged in the missions of his command is proof of Israeli intelligence’s failure to reach senior Palestinians,” Haniyeh said.
The former Islamist prime minister of the Hamas-ruled regime in Gaza said that the news constituted “a victory for the Palestinian resistance over the occupation.”
Sources in Israel believe that Deif, who has survived numerous assassination attempts by the IDF, most recently during Operation Protective Edge nearly a year ago, is now trying to forge closer ties between the Palestinian Islamist group and Iran.
According to Israel Radio, Deif is seeking to procure more armaments and funding for Hamas.
As such, Israeli sources say that there is dissension within Hamas, particularly between the group’s political bureau and its military wing.
According to reports, Deif and his commanders accused the diplomatic bureau of preventing his charges from carrying out a surprise, preemptive strike against Israel on the eve of last summer’s conflagration.
Deif’s purported plan was to deploy dozens of terrorists through Hamas’ underground tunnels and into Israeli communities on the other side of the Gaza frontier.
Upon reaching Israeli towns, the gunmen would then begin killing civilians while taking others hostage.
Israeli sources also told Israel Radio that Hamas continues to dig new tunnels using cement that it purchased on the black market in Gaza. The Islamist organization is also manufacturing rockets that can strike targets 150 kilometers away.