IDF has twice tried to kill head of Hamas military wing in current fighting

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The Israel Defense Forces attempted to kill the head of Hamas’s military wing, Muhammad Deif, at least twice during the current round of violence, but both times he escaped unscathed, IDF Military Intelligence believes.

This information has only now been allowed to be published.

Throughout the IDF’s ongoing campaign in the Gaza Strip against Hamas, the military has said that one of its primary goals is killing top leaders of the terror group, who have largely gone into hiding to avoid IDF strikes.

Deif has been on Israel’s most-wanted list for over 25 years for his involvement in the planning and execution of large numbers of terror attacks. The Israeli military considers Deif to be a skilled field commander.

Before Israel’s two failed attempts this month, Israeli security services have tried to kill Deif at least five times over the years. The first such attempt took place in 2001, a second in 2002, costing him his eye, and a third a year later. Another strike was conducted in 2006 in which he was seriously injured, losing the use of his legs and one arm.

In 2014, during that year’s Gaza war, Israel again attempted to kill Deif, but narrowly missed him, killing instead his wife, infant son and 3-year-old daughter. Though Israel initially believed that Deif too had been killed in the strike, he was later determined to have indeed survived.

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