Uncovered photo purports to offer new glimpse of shadowy Hamas terror leader Deif

Picture, one of only a few public images of elusive al-Qassam Brigades commander, appears to show him without an eye, apparently lost amid Israeli assassination attempts

A photo, reportedly from 2018, purporting to show Muhammad Deif, the commander of the Hamas terror group's military wing, which was published by Hebrew media outlets on December 27, 2023. (Screen capture; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A photo, reportedly from 2018, purporting to show Muhammad Deif, the commander of the Hamas terror group's military wing, which was published by Hebrew media outlets on December 27, 2023. (Screen capture; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A photo purporting to show Hamas armed-wing commander Muhammad Deif was published by Israel’s Channel 12 news Wednesday, one of the only known pictures of the shadowy arch-terrorist.

The photo, which is apparently newer than the few other public pictures of him, was reportedly obtained by Israeli forces fighting in Gaza, according to the network.

It did not say when the photo was taken, but the Ynet news site reported Thursday morning that it was from 2018 and was likely taken during a social event.

The picture shows the man purported to be Deif in what appears to be a wooded area, with one eye closed. The publication comes days after reports indicated that the army had come across information casting doubt on the extent of Deif’s injuries from a series of unsuccessful Israeli assassination attempts.

Deif is long believed to have lost an eye in an Israeli strike decades ago, and had also been believed to be missing both legs and an arm.

The TV report claimed that Deif is missing a leg and instead has a prosthetic, although this could not be verified in the published photo, which shows him only from the shoulders up.

The authenticity of the photo cannot be independently verified.

A report in the Maariv daily on December 20 claimed that video evidence uncovered by IDF troops in Gaza depicted Deif walking under his own power, albeit with a slight limp.

Illustrative: A young boy carries a toy gun as supporters of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement hold a portrait of Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif during a demonstration in the Gaza Strip on August 22, 2014. (HAZEM BADER / AFP)

According to Ynet, Israeli officials think Deif sometimes still uses a wheelchair as a result of the attempts on his life, and is playing an active role in commanding the fighting in Gaza.

IDF troops found wheelchairs they believe were used by Deif in a tunnel network uncovered in Gaza’ City’s Rimal neighborhood and thought to have served as a command post for top Hamas brass.

A wheelchair found near the entrance to a tunnel believed to have been used by Muhammad Deif, near Palestine Square in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood, December 19, 2023. (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari refused to say Wednesday night whether the new photo was an indication that troops were closing in on Deif.

Deif has been on Israel’s most-wanted list since 1995 for his involvement in the planning and execution of a large number of terror attacks, including many bus bombings in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The al-Qassam Brigades commander is believed to have played a central role in the shock October 7 assault on Israel, in which some 1,200 people were slaughtered and around 240 others dragged to Gaza as hostages when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst into Israel and launched the deadliest attack in the country’s history.

An outdated image of Hamas military wing commander Muhammad Deif (courtesy)

Deif has survived at least seven assassination attempts over the years, some of them injuring him to various degrees or killing his family members.

The last two known attempts, according to the military, occurred in May 2021 when Israel and Gazan terror groups fought in an 11-day flareup known as Operation Guardian of the Walls.

Prior to 2021, Israel had tried to kill Deif during the 2014 war in Gaza but narrowly missed, killing instead his wife, infant son and 3-year-old daughter.

The other assassination attempts took place in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006, the last of which was believed to have resulted in the loss of his legs.

A leaflet apparently airdropped by the IDF in Gaza offers monetary rewards for information on Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, his brother Muhammed, Rafaa Salameh and Muhammad Deif. (Screenshot from X used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Earlier in December, the IDF appeared to place a bounty on his head, reportedly dropping flyers offering money for information on his whereabouts, as well as the whereabouts of other senior Hamas officials.

The flyer offered $400,000 for information on Sinwar, who leads the group in Gaza; $300,000 for information on his brother, Muhammed Sinwar, who commands the terror group’s southern brigade; $200,000 for information on Rafa’a Salameh, the commander of Hamas’s Khan Younis battalion; and $100,000 for information on Deif.

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