Multiple Israeli media reports say that Hamas’s military commander Mohammed Deif is alive and well and has returned to active duty, spearheading closer relations with Iran.
During Operation Protective Edge last summer, an Israeli air operation targeted Deif, who has long been one of Israel’s most wanted targets. Although his wife and son were killed in the strike, it had been unclear whether Deif himself survived or not. However, according to Israel Radio, Haaretz and other sources, Israeli officials believe that Deif is alive and is actively directing Hamas’s military operations.
In particular, Deif is reportedly courting closer ties with Iran, which has responded by bankrolling much of Hamas’s rearmament efforts, including the replenishment of rockets and rebuilding the complex tunnel network designed to attack Israelis. In fact, the reports say that Deif remains angry at Hamas’s political leadership which decided to postpone a mass terror attack planned by Deif ahead of last summer’s hostilities, which would have seen tunnels used to kidnap Israeli soldiers and civilians.
While Deif favours strong ties with Iran, Hamas’s political leaders are apparently discussing a tentative long-term ceasefire with Israel which is being brokered by Turkey and Qatar. According to Times of Israel analyst Avi Issacharoff, Qatari ambassador to the Gaza Strip, Muhammad Al-Ahmadi has visited Israel and met with Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai. Apparently, the proposal involves a five-year cessation of hostilities and the creation of a floating harbour off the Gaza coast to facilitate imports which would be monitored by NATO. However, Israel reportedly strongly opposes the port for fear that illicit goods will slip through, especially as materials destined for tunnel construction have been uncovered by Israeli authorities at border checks on three recent occasions.
Meanwhile, the Maan news agency says that Egypt is taking more robust measures to combat smuggling tunnels underneath the Gaza-Egypt border. Egypt is apparently pumping water underground and is considering building a canal as a long-term solution.