Mohammed Deif Age, Wife, Family, Biography & More

Quick Info→
Age: 58 Years
Hometown: Gaza Strip
Relationship Status: Windowed

Mohammed Deif

Full nameMohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri [1]The Economic Times
Other NamesThe cat with nine lives [2]Business Standard, Abu Khaled [3]The Free Press Journal
Profession(s)Militant (Commander of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades)
Military career
Logo of Hamas
Service/branchIzz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Personal Life
Date of BirthYear, 1965
Age (as of 2023) 58 Years
BirthplaceKhan Yunis, Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip
HometownGaza Strip, Palestine
College/UniversityIslamic University, Gaza
Educational QualificationA science degree (1988) [4]The Hindustan Times
Relationships & More
Marital StatusWidowed
Marriage DateYear, 2011
Wife/SpouseWidad Asfoura
ChildrenSon- Ali (deceased)
Daughter- Sara (deceased)
ParentsNames Not Known

Note: Deif’s mother died in January 2011.
SiblingsBrother- Abd al-Fattah Diab (deceased)

Some Lesser Known Facts About Mohammed Deif

  • Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri is a Palestinian militant and a prominent Hamas leader. He is a supreme military commander of Hamas’ military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. He has been the Israeli military’s ‘most wanted’ man since 1995. Over the decades, he adopted a nomadic lifestyle, constantly changing his place of residence every night to avoid being tracked and targeted by Israel. This led to him being referred to as Mohammed Deif, or El Deif, which means “guest” in Arabic. [5]The Economic Times
  • Deif was born to Palestinian refugee parents in Khan Yunis Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip which was set up in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. His family came from Al-Qubeiba and was forced to flee their village during the war.
  • Hailing from a humble low-income background, Mohammed temporarily left school to support his family. Initially, he worked alongside his father in the textile and upholstery industry. Later, he ventured into poultry farming and took on a job as a driver.
  • Deif eventually returned to school and earned a science degree from the Islamic University in Gaza in 1988, focusing on subjects like physics, chemistry, and biology. He liked the arts and was in charge of the university’s entertainment committee. He also founded the Islamic theatre group known as al-Ayedun and participated in various theatrical productions.
  • While studying at the Islamic University, he became the head of the Muslim Brotherhood Student Union, from which Hamas emerged in 1987.
  • The Sunni Islamist organization ‘Hamas’ was founded by Palestinian imam and activist Ahmed Yassin after the outbreak of the First Intifada against Israel in 1987. The group’s goal was to create an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel. A series of protests and violent riots were carried out by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and Israel during this time. The First Intifada was a consequence of Palestinians’ frustration over Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
  • In 1989, Deif was captured by Israel, following which he was imprisoned for 16 months without a trial on suspicion of his role in the movement’s military activities.
  • In 1990, Deif’s association with Hamas began via his long-time associates Yahya Ayyash and Adnan al-Ghoul.  Yahya Ayyash was Deif’s mentor who taught him how to assemble IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Deif is also considered to be the co-designer of the Qassam rocket.

    Hamas leaders Adnan al-Ghoul (left) and Yahya Ayyash (right)

    Hamas leaders Adnan al-Ghoul (left) and Yahya Ayyash (right)

  • In mid-1991, Deif and his colleagues formed the armed wing of Hamas called al-Qassam Brigades, which opposed the peace efforts led by Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization at the time, and the 1993 Oslo Accords, which aimed to establish a two-state solution for a new Palestine living in peace alongside Israel.
  • Deif was involved in countless terrorist attacks against Israel in the 90s that killed numerous people to obstruct the peace process.
  • He spearheaded the abduction and murder of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers Shahar Simani, Aryeh Frankenthal, and Nachshon Wachsman in 1994.
  • After Ayyash’s death in 1995, Deif started working as an engineer for the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades, the armed military wing of Hamas.
  • Deif was behind the 1996 Jaffa Road bus bombings in Jerusalem. Two buses were blown up by Hamas suicide bombers using explosives prepared by Adnan Awul which killed around 45 people.
  • He sent five suicide bombers into Israel in March 2000 but they were killed by Yamam, Israel’s national counter-terrorism unit.
  • In May 2000, Deif was arrested by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s security forces, but he escaped from jail in December 2000.
  • He rose to prominence within the Qassam Brigades and became its leader in 2002 after the previous leader, Salah Shehade, was killed by an Israeli airstrike.
  • In 2005, Dief resurfaced in an internet video in which he promised “hell” for Israel after its pullout from the Gaza Strip. He said,

    Today you have left the hell of Gaza in shame but have not gotten out completely, as you continue to occupy Palestine….We tell the Zionists who have tarnished our soil, we tell you that all of Palestine will become a hell.”

  • In February 2006, there were reports in the Israeli media claiming that Deif, who was dissatisfied with the truce announced by Hamas, was considering the possibility of leaving Hamas to join newly emerging Al-Qaeda groups in the Gaza Strip. However, the Ezzadeen al-Qassam Brigades denied that such a move was taking place.

    Hamas leader Mohammed Deif

    Hamas leader Mohammed Deif

  • On 8 September 2015, the United States Department of State added Deif to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
  • In 2021, Deif issued a clear and final warning that if Israel proceeded with the eviction of Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Hamas “will not stand by helplessly and the enemy will pay a heavy price.”
  • In 2023, he masterminded a surprise multi-front attack called Operation Al-Aqsa Storm on Israel.
  • On the 5th day of the Israel-Hamas war, the Israel Defence Forces struck over 200 targets in the Al Furkan neighbourhood of the Gaza Strip and one of the targets was Deif’s father’s house. The airstrike killed Deif’s brother Abd al-Fattah Diab.
  • By 2023, Deif had survived seven attempts to kill him over 20 years. These attempts included five air strikes by Israel. During Israel’s first assassination attempt on Deif’s life in 2001, he lost one eye, and in the next one, he lost part of his arm, which left him disabled. There were reports that he died in an Israeli air strike on 27 September 2002, but later, an Israeli intelligence official confirmed that he survived. On 12 July 2006, an Israeli F16 aircraft hit a house where high-ranking Hamas officials were meeting. Deif survived the explosion but had severe spinal injuries. Following this incident, Ahmed Jabari assumed the position of acting commander of al-Qassam Brigades. On 19 August 2014, an Israeli Air Force strike on a house in the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in Gaza City killed his wife, 7-month-old son, and 3-year-old daughter; however, Deif survived.

    Widad Asfoura's father carrying the dead body of Ali Deif, the son of Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif

    Widad Asfoura’s father carrying the dead body of Ali Deif, the son of Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif

  • During the events of Operation Guardian of the Walls in May 2021, reports suggested that the Israeli military tried to assassinate Deif twice in a week, but he narrowly escaped both times.
  •  He is often referred to as “the cat with nine lives”  by various media due to his ability to survive the assassination attempts on his life. [6]Business Standard
  • Following the death of Deif’s wife, Widad Asfoura, in a 2014 air strike, Deif’s mother-in-law said she would be honoured if Deif were to marry her two other daughters. During an interview, she said,

    Should Deif request the hand of any of my other daughters, I will happily consent and even if she, too, is martyred I will consent to the third. It is an honor to have Deif a husband to any of my daughters and be a father to their children.”