A death certificate purporting to show that Hamas military leader Muhammad Deif was pronounced dead, along with his wife and son, by Gaza’s Shifa hospital surfaced on social media overnight Wednesday, fueling the online debate about the uncertain fate of the elusive terror chief who was targeted by Israel late Tuesday.
The picture of the death certificate listing Deif’s name was identical to a picture circulated on Wednesday morning online. The only difference was that the first version only listed the names of his wife and son.
Channel 10 reported on the second document, with Deif’s name, via a Gaza-based news agency, which briefly posted it, and quickly took it down. The website of the news agency has since been inaccessible, Channel 10 reported.
The newer picture shows Deif’s name alongside that of his wife and son who were killed in the Israeli airstrike, with the time of death stated as being around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Shortly after the second picture was published, Gaza’s emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra posted a rebuttal on his Facebook page, stating that the document was fraudulent, and stressing that Deif’s wife and child were killed in the strike, while Deif was not.
Israel was said to have dropped several bunker buster bombs on Deif’s residence late Tuesday in an apparent assassination attempt that killed five people in total. Hamas maintained that Deif was not at home during the attack, and was still alive. However, Israeli intelligence sources told Fox News Wednesday that the Hamas leader was believed to have been killed.
Addressing the public on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dodged the question of Deif’s fate, saying only that “the commanders of terror organizations are a legitimate target, of the highest priority… No one is immune,” he said. Asked again, he refused to elaborate.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, in a Hamas TV interview earlier Wednesday, described Deif as “the dead man” in an apparent slip of the tongue. Later a spokesman for the Hamas military wing vowed that Deif would lead the army that liberated Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa.
Deif survived four other assassination attempts by Israel.