Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal broke protocol and directly contacted the head of the military wing in the Gaza Strip, Muhammad Deif, to discuss a ceasefire with Israel, a call that was intercepted by Israeli intelligence giving away Deif’s location, Lebanese media claimed on Thursday.
News1, citing Lebanese media, reported that the call may have enabled Israeli intelligence to pinpoint Deif, who has been in hiding for years in Gaza. There was no confirmation of the report, which was also carried by Israel’s Channel 10 news.
Shortly after the contact, the report stated, Israel authorized an air strike Tuesday night on a Gaza City residence in which Deif’s wife, son and daughter were killed. It has not yet been confirmed if Deif was killed in the strike. Israeli officials have said there was firm intelligence that Deif was there; Hamas claims he is still alive but has produced no sign of life.
According to Palestinian sources cited in the report, Mashaal, who is based in Qatar, was being pressured to agree to an Egyptian ceasefire proposal but wished to consult directly with Deif, and did so contrary to established Hamas secrecy protocols.
Egypt has been acting as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians in an effort to end a conflict that has been raging since the beginning of July.
Israel was said to have dropped several bunker buster bombs on the Gaza building in the attack that killed five people.
The Egyptian ceasefire proposal calls for an immediate end to the hostilities between Israel and Hamas, followed by talks to reach a prolonged truce.
Hamas has repeatedly said it will continue its rocket attacks on Israel until its demands, which include a lifting of the blockade on Gaza and the opening of a seaport and airport, are met. Hamas breached the latest short-term truce on Tuesday, and the Cairo talks have since collapsed.
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in an effort to stop Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza and to destroy a network of tunnels dug under the border by Hamas that have been used to launch deadly terror attacks inside Israel.