Apparently in better condition than expected: Hamas commander Mohammed Deif in an undated photo

Photo: picture-alliance / dpa

There has been much speculation about the commander of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, since Mohammed Deif has been living underground in the Gaza Strip for years. Among other things, the idea has spread that he lost several body parts in a total of seven Israeli assassination attempts – even Israel's intelligence services were of this opinion.

Now, according to Israeli media reports, there are indications that this could be a mistake. The army found a video showing Mohammed Deif with both legs and arms, Israeli army radio reported.

Until now, it was believed that the Hamas commander lost both legs and an arm in Israeli attacks more than a decade ago and that he is partially paralyzed. According to the report, however, he is not currently in a wheelchair, which may have been the case for a few years during his recovery.

The Israeli newspaper Maariv also reported on a video discovered in the Gaza Strip that purportedly shows Deif walking, albeit limping. Deif can walk on his own and does not need a wheelchair. He also appears to be able to use both arms," the report said. This, he said, is "in complete contradiction to the detailed assessments made by Israeli intelligence about his physical condition in recent years." According to the report, it was assumed in Israel that Deif was in need of care and had a variety of physical disabilities.

Criticism of Israel's intelligence services

The newspaper spoke of "failures on the part of the Israeli intelligence services." According to Army Radio, however, they had known for years that the Hamas commander was in much better shape than was generally known. Israel's army declined to comment on the reports when asked.

Together with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, Deif is believed to be the planner of the massacre in Israel on October 7. In a rare message that day, Deif announced the "military operation" against Israel.

An airstrike on a house in Gaza at the end of the 2014 Gaza war killed his wife and young son. Deif was able to escape. Also known as the "Phantom," he reportedly survived a total of seven Israeli assassination attempts, injuring four times, some of them seriously. The head of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades has been in hiding for years.

Deif and Sinwar are also at the top of a list of terrorists to be killed in the current war. According to eyewitnesses, Israel is offering residents of the Gaza Strip 100,000 US dollars (just under 92,000 euros) for information about Deif. According to the report, the army distributed leaflets to obtain information about the top leadership of the terrorist organization. For Sinwar, 400,000 US dollars (around 366,000 euros) were offered.

But it is likely that the Hamas leaders are surrounding themselves with some of the hostages still held in the Gaza Strip, writes the Washington Post. This makes it difficult for the poor to kill the two.