Deif's trail of terror and escape

July 12, 2006 23:56
2 minute read.


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For years he has topped the Israeli security establishment's "most wanted" list of terrorists. Muhammad Deif's long career with Hamas in Gaza produced many of the suicide bombing attacks against Israel. But despite numerous attempts on his life by the IAF, the latest coming on Wednesday and reportedly leaving him injured, Deif continues to lead a charmed life. Learning of Wednesday's failed hit, former Mossad chief Dani Yatom lamented: "It's a pity that he wasn't killed. He is no less dangerous when he is injured. He has been injured many times before. The only way to make him less dangerous is to kill him." 1993: Deif planned a drive-by shooting in which American Isaac Weinstock, 19, was murdered. 1994: Masterminded the kidnapping and murder of 19-year-old soldier, Nachshon Wachsman. Wachsman was eventually killed by his kidnappers when IDF commandos stormed the house in which he was being held. 1996: In March, following Israel's assassination of Hamas bombmaker Yihye Ayash, masterminded Hamas's eight-day suicide bombing campaign in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ashkelon, which killed 60 Israelis and three Americans, and wounded 130. 2000: In May, the Palestinian Authority announced that Deif had been taken into custody by Muhammad Dahlan's Preventive Security Services. This was presented by the PA as a gesture to Israel and America ahead of the upcoming Camp David summit. Israeli security sources suggested at the time that it was most likely that Deif had given himself up to Dahlan's men in order to avoid being captured or killed by Israel. In October, the PA released hundreds of imprisoned terrorists after Israel launched air strikes against its security installations, but Deif was reportedly kept in detention "for his own protection." But Hamas claimed that Deif managed to escape while being transferred to a PA detention center in Gaza City. 2001: On August 22, an Israeli military helicopter launched missiles at a convoy carrying Adnan al-Ghoul, a well-known Hamas figure, and Deif. Deif reportedly jumped out of the car seconds before the car was struck. Al-Ghoul's 19-year-old son Bilal was killed. 2002: In July Deif was appointed as the new commander of Hamas's Izzadin Kassam Brigade in Gaza, following the killing of his predecessor Salah Shehadeh in an IAF bombing strike on his house. Deif again escaped an attempt on his life on September 26, when an IDF helicopter launched a missile attack on his car in Gaza City. Deif sustained moderate wounds, suffering burns to his body and losing one of his eyes. 2003: In September Deif escaped an IAF air strike aimed at a gathering of the top Hamas leadership in Gaza City. 2004: In October Deif became the exclusive chief of Hamas's military wing when al-Ghoul was killed in an IAF air strike while riding in his car in Gaza. 2005: A week following Israel's disengagement from Gaza, Deif appeared in a videotape released by the Izzadin Kassam Brigade. With most of his body appearing behind a shadow and his face blackened out, Deif spoke about the pullout, praising Hamas fighters and vowing that Hamas would continue to fight Israel until it was destroyed. 2006: It was reported in February that Deif, unhappy with Hamas's decision to run against Fatah in the PA elections, had decided to split from the group to begin formation of an al-Qaida cell in the Gaza Strip. These reports were denied by the Hamas political leadership.

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