Both Shinovar and Teif are from the Gaza Strip, born in the Khan Younis refugee camp (in the south) in the early 1960s, and know the place well. The war was preceded by the Six Day War of 1967. Israel took control of a small territory (to the detriment of Egypt) and saw it colonized. After engaging in activism and later armed struggle for the Palestinian cause in the early 1980s, they saw the birth of Hamas during the first intifada in 1987. Five years later, they were among the founders of the Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades, an armed wing that emerged from the militarization of the Islamist movement’s intelligence. Deïf will command in 2002.
Discreet and elusive
Mohammed Deïf, whose real name is Mohammed Diab al Masri, is 58 years old and has made a remarkable leap forward in Hamas’s military infrastructure and technologies, particularly by allowing the semi-industrial production of its rockets, until then artisanal. He also developed the group’s tunnel network and its bomb-making know-how. He is also considered the father of the Qassam rocket used to bomb Israeli territory. Before joining Hamas, he obtained a diploma in science (physics, chemistry, biology) from the Islamic University of Gaza. He then assisted his mentor, the Chief Pyrotechnician at the time, Yahya Ayache, known as “The Engineer”.
A strategist is as shrewd as he is elusive. He is at the top of Israel’s most wanted list, responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings in the 1990s. Such is the case of 60-year-old Yahya Sinouar, who took charge of the Hamas organization in the Gaza Strip in 2017. (Following Ismail Haniyeh’s departure, he was promoted to head of the movement’s political office). Daif and Sinour are among the international terrorists wanted by the US since 2015. The previous year, he had lost his wife and their two children in Israeli bombing. He was killed in one of seven assassination attempts (notably in which he lost his legs), the last in 2021. In the same year, the IDF attempted to decapitate Hamas and bombed the homes of nine officers, including Yahya Sinauvar. It was that year that Taif began organizing Operation “Al Aqsa Flood” in response to Israeli soldiers’ incursion into the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site for Muslims.
Concern for Israeli soldiers poised to attack Gaza: “Second city lies underground, terrifying maze of tunnels filled with traps”
Hostages vs. Prisoners
Known by the nickname “guest” (deïf, in Arabic), justified by his nomadic lifestyle, which drives him to a permanent search for hospitality, Mohammed Deïf rarely speaks and does not appear in public. The intervention he recorded on October 7 would be of rare significance. “In light of (Israel’s) extravagance of occupation and defiance of international laws and resolutions, and in light of American and Western support and international peace, we have decided to end it all.”He announced while announcing that the operation would be launched.
In detention, Yahya Sinauvar outperforms him. Sentenced to 30 years in prison in 1988 for multiple murders, the current leader of Hamas in Gaza spent about 22 years in Israeli prisons. He was freed in 2011 among a thousand Palestinians who were exchanged for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held hostage by Hamas for five years. By this time, as dozens of Israeli hostages had been brought back to Gaza from their deadly operation, Sinwar and Taif were able to free almost all Palestinian political prisoners.
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