Hamas military leader 'alive and rebuilding capability'
Israeli media has reported that Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif is alive and involved in rebuilding the group's military capabilities in Gaza, months after reports he had been killed in an attack during the last Gaza war.
Previous Israeli reports said the Qassam Brigades commander was killed in the August 2014 bombing of the al-Dalou family home in Gaza where Deif's wife, Widad and two children were killed.
However, several Israeli newspapers on Thursday stated that Israeli assessments now say he survived and has taken an active role in the rebuilding of Hamas' military.
Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, said on Thursday that the statements demonstrated the "cunning and skill" of Deif, as well as evidence of Israeli war crimes during the war.
Haniyeh said that Hamas would "continue fighting the occupation and will also lead the Palestinian national liberation project".
Israeli media and al-Monitor this week stated that Deif had been planning to attack Israeli settlements during the 2014 the war, but was prevented by Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas political leader in exile.
|Haniyeh said that Hamas would 'continue fighting the occupation'.|
Deif has been credited with his part in planning a complex network of tunnels from Gaza into Israel, which fighters used to infiltrate Israel during the war.
Deif declared in a speech during the war that "we prefer fighting and killing the soldiers of elite enemy units than attacking civilians in the villages next to Gaza".
There have been reports of recent escalating tensions between the military and political arms of Hamas, including differing opinions on who Hamas should ally with. The military wing and Hamas firebrand, Mahmoud Zaher, is reported to be leaning towards the Iranian axis.
In January this year, Deif wrote to the leader of Hizballah, Hassan Nasrallah, saying that the two movements should direct their weapons towards Israel as a united force.
Deif has survived numerous attacks, including one in 2002 in the Shiekh Radwan area of Gaza when he lost an eye, and in 2006 when a blast seriously injured his spine.
He is a secretive figure who never shows his face, and reportedly even uses body doubles when giving speeches.