Behind the headlines
The phantom commander of Gaza City
Last weekend’s appalling attacks were masterminded by one man, says Mehul Srivastava in the FT. The supreme military commander of Hamas goes by the nom de guerre Mohammed “Deif”, or “Guest”, because he sleeps in the home of a different sympathiser every night to evade Israeli intelligence. Which makes sense – they’ve been hunting him for decades, and almost killed him 20 years ago in an airstrike that blew off an arm and a leg and left him in a wheelchair. Those who knew him before he vanished into the shadows of Palestinian militancy recall a “quiet, intense man”, utterly single-minded about the Arab-Israeli conflict and “using violence as a means to end it”. Only one grainy photograph of him exists in the public domain.