Muhammad Deif presents: Hamas' military academy
In al-Jazeera interview, senior wanted Palestinian terror suspect presents academy which prepares thousands of activists to fight against Israel; 'Jew that came to lands of Palestine is a murderer, occupier and he is the one we fight, but we have no connection to Jew living in his synagogue in Britain or America,' group official says
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.
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 statement proving that he is still active.
Muhammad Deif (Photo: Al-Jazeera)
The al-Jazeera network on Saturday night aired a special film on the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in which Muhammad Deif, assuming it was indeed him, gave an interview to the network's reporter, wearing a red kaffiyah (square cotton headkerchief.)
A quick glance gave the impression that he was indeed hurt in his face and in one his eyes in the assassination attempt. However, it appeared that he has no trouble moving and is actively involved in what is happening in his military organization.
The film, which was titled "Hosted by the rifle," provided a rare and unique peek into the trainings and activities of Hamas' military wing. The al-Jazeera reporter interviewed most of the group's senior members in Gaza, including Deif and Ahmed Jabri, head of the military wing in the Strip, who is also wanted by Israel.
The film also featured one of the military wing's spokespeople, Abu Ubaidah, as well as a large number of activists who took part in terror attacks against Israel, in addition to photos of trainings, production of weapons and explosive devices, and experiments in the field.
Muhammad Deif's return
Deif provided viewers with a rare opportunity to hear his doctrine once again.
"We are a nation which has been defeated, deprived and expelled from our lands, and we are operating to obtain what we deserve – what we had before 1948. Then there was no state called Israel. This occupation state was founded due to a United Nations decision. One can still see that all the UN rules apply to the weak side and not to the Israeli entity," he said.
Deif referred to the terror attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel, as presented in the al-Jazeera film, saying that "it took us four to five months to prepare for the Atzmona operation and prepare the weapons. Some 70-80 percent of our attacks are successful."
In a different context he said: "We did not carry out attacks against Israel, but as retaliation acts."
'When security situation is better, I'll come home'
Alongside Deif, al-Jazeera also interviewed Ahmed Jabri, in spite of his fear of a possible Israeli strike.
"I am moving around according to conditions. If the security situation is better, I'll come home," Jabri said, kissing his small daughter.
Jabri was asked by the reporter about the origin of the huge budgets enabling the group to maintain such a large military body, which according to the film includes 15,000 "troops" only in the Gaza Strip, and whether Iran was involved in the funding.
"We have no connection to other elements and to external elements. Our funding is through donations and the help of our activists," Jabri states.
This claim sounds strange in light of the claims on a deteriorating economic situation in the Strip.
"The Jew who came to the land of Palestine is a murderer and an occupier and he is the one we fight, but we have no connection to the Jew living in his synagogue in Britain or America. If he comes here, we will fight him," Jabri continued.
Jabri provided his vision regarding the future of the Hamas movement, saying: "We are a combat movement, which will safeguard its weapons until the liberation of the entire Palestine. Therefore, we will continue our operations until the liberation is completed.
Asked what will now happen to the West Bank following Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, he added: "We will help our brothers in the West Bank as much as we can so that they are liberated like we in Gaza were liberated."
Hamas army in action
The film provides a unique view of the capabilities of the military arm, or Hamas' army. As part of the film, viewers could be impressed by the movement's weapon manufacturing laboratories, which include frag grenades, anti-tank rockets, Qassam rockets, explosive devices and powerful explosives.
"The first Qassam rocket was fired in June 2001 to a range of 1.5 kilometers (about 1 mile). With the help of Allah, we have extremely succeeded in improving it and increasing its range," one of the activists explained in the film.
Another experiment presented in the film showed the viewers how a relatively simple device can infiltrate 830 millimeters (about 32.6 inches) of steel.
"According to the results, this device can infiltrate the Merkava tank," an activist explained.
Al-Jazeera also presented photos of tunnels currently being dug by the organization; one member explained that several dozen activists are taking part in the digging.
“Whichever defensive measures the enemy takes - we will get to them,” one member said.
“Gaza is only the beginning,” Izz el-Din el-Qassam spokesman Abu Obeida said.
The activists in video are graduates of Hamas’ “Military Academy,” where members receive weapons training and lessons in the organization’s ideology. The group also plans on establishing a military court.