Muhammad Deif, the commander of Hamas' military wing, has said that the movement will strike in the heart of Israel
in the near future, a senior Hamas
member said Tuesday.
The man, Sheikh Ahmed Hamdan from the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, said that he recently met with Deif in his hiding place, and heard from him that Hamas will soon replace its defensive fighting policy with an offensive one.
According to Hamdan, "The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, plans to begin its attack against the Israeli occupation in the coming weeks, and will not settle for the defensive policy."
Hamdan spoke as he visited the family of a Hamas gunman killed Monday morning in clashes with the IDF in the southern Gaza Strip. An Israeli soldier was also killed in the incident.
"Deif promised me that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades will hit the Zionist enemy hard. The organization has completed its preparations and is only waiting for orders," he said.
Deif is responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings he planned. In 1992, he went into hiding and escaped at lease two assassination attempts. In one of the incidents, in which a missile was fired at him, Deif reportedly lost one of his eyes.
Deif inherited the command on Hamas' military wing from Yehya Ayash, known as "the engineer," who was assassinated in 1996. He was behind a series of severe terror attacks which were carried out in revenge for Ayash's assassination.
He was responsible for sending terrorists to carry out suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Ashkelon, and was behind the groups that kidnapped and murdered IDF soldiers Nachson Waxman and Shahar Simani.
Deif, who knew he was being targeted by Israel, did everything to escape and slip away. At the end of 1996, he apparently escaped to Egypt, but he later returned to plan terror attacks. The more prominent terror activists were assassinated by Israel over the year, the more Deif became involved in planning attacks, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
In the past years, he and his deputy Adnan al-Rul, who was assassinated at the end of 2004, were involved in developing rockets. In the course of the years he was arrested by Palestinian security forces, but was released after short periods of time.
Various legends and myths have been associated with his health condition, some claiming that he suffered brain damage. Deif once appeared in a Hamas film, in which he issued a statement proving that he was still active.