(CTN NEWS) – In the turbulent landscape of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, few individuals have evoked such mystery and intrigue as the man known as El Deif, the enigmatic figure believed to be at the helm of Hamas’ military wing, the Al Qassem Brigades.
His secretive existence and role in orchestrating some of the most significant moments in the conflict have placed him squarely in the spotlight, albeit a shadowy one.
In this article, we delve into the life and influence of this elusive character, exploring his significance in the ongoing conflict.
The Old and New Faces of Hamas
Hamas, a Palestinian militant group with a complex history, has evolved over the years. In the past, it combined acts of terror with a political and social movement, raising questions about its true objectives.
Notorious for its violence against Israelis and its long-standing commitment to the destruction of the state of Israel, Hamas always had a reputation in the Arab world for efficiency and a certain degree of integrity.
However, it was also characterized by a willingness to sacrifice its own people for its ideological goals.
Throughout its history, Hamas has oscillated between periods of violence and attempts at peaceful coexistence, largely depending on which faction within the organization held sway.
El Deif, whose real name is Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, stands out as a prominent military figure within Hamas, and he has consistently opposed any form of peace or reconciliation with Israel.
El Deif: A Life Shrouded in Secrecy
El Deif, nicknamed “the Guest,” has spent decades evading capture by constantly changing his location, a necessity given Israel’s relentless pursuit of key Hamas figures.
He maintains a mysterious and virtually unknown presence among ordinary Palestinians, which adds to his enigmatic aura.
This secrecy is further compounded by his involvement with the Al Qassem Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, which has a penchant for clandestine operations.
His early notoriety arose in 1996 when he orchestrated a series of suicide attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, killing 65 people and derailing the peace process.
As Hamas wrested control of Gaza from its rival, Fatah, in 2007, Israel and Egypt tightened their grip on the beleaguered territory, leading to a shift in Palestinian perceptions of Hamas.
While the Palestinian Authority (PA) remained dominant in the West Bank, support for Hamas in Gaza never exceeded 50%, even though it was seen as the preferable alternative.
However, in private conversations, many residents expressed reluctance to openly support Hamas’s military campaigns, fearing repercussions.
Hamas capitalized on the grievances stemming from Israel’s policies in the West Bank, the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements, and the difficulties of achieving a two-state solution.
The tighter the control over Gaza’s borders became, the more Hamas developed military capabilities to counter these pressures, with rockets as its primary weapon.
Over time, Iran provided crucial support, training engineers, transferring technology, and aiding in the development of rockets capable of reaching Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
The Strategic Deception
Under El Deif’s guidance in the last two years, Hamas initiated a strategic deception aimed at convincing Israel that its focus was on domestic issues, such as rebuilding Gaza and securing work permits for its people in Israel. This narrative aimed to portray Hamas as a responsible governing force, overshadowing its military ambitions.
Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science in Gaza, noted that Israel believed Hamas had shifted its focus away from military confrontation.
However, unbeknownst to many, Hamas was plotting a massive assault, which unfolded in recent times, thereby dispelling the notion that the Islamic Resistance had abandoned its strategic objectives.
This shift was also attributed to another influential figure within Hamas, Yahya Sinwar, who transitioned from heading the Al Qassem Brigades to leading Hamas in Gaza.
Sinwar focused on building relationships with foreign powers, particularly Egypt and Iran, to bolster Hamas’s position.
The Recent Escalation and Its Implications
The recent Hamas attack on Israel marked the most significant Israeli military setback since the 1973 Yom Kippur War when Syria and Egypt launched a surprise assault.
This recent conflict has seen Israel massing troops on its borders with Gaza and in the north, where it faces Iran-backed Hezbollah across the Lebanese border. What remains uncertain is what Hamas hopes to gain from this bloody gamble.
Karim von Hippel, the director of the Royal United Services Institute in London, believes that this latest confrontation is unlikely to yield positive results for Hamas.
While the organization may have planned this for years, it may ultimately lead to its demise, erasing any hopes of realizing its objectives.
As the world watches the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, the enigmatic figure of El Deif remains a central character, navigating the complex web of regional politics and a deep-rooted historical conflict.
His role, though shrouded in secrecy, continues to influence the trajectory of this enduring conflict, with potentially far-reaching consequences for the entire region.
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