Israel Is Trying to Assassinate a Man It Just Can't Kill

There have been at least 8 attempts on Mohammed Deif's life over the years
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2021 11:39 AM CDT
Biden Gets Much More Direct With Netanyahu
A Palestinian policeman stands in the rubble of a building destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, Tuesday, May 18, 2021.   (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has now hit day 10, and there have been four calls between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in that time. CNN describes the latest as "a signal that Biden is losing patience" with a leader he has known for some 40 years. The White House said Biden on Wednesday communicated "that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire." It did not elaborate on what would constitute a "significant de-escalation." The latest:

  • NBC News reports the White House further described the call as "detailed discussion on the state of events in Gaza, Israel's progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States."
  • What Netanyahu said Wednesday at a briefing, per the Guardian: "We don’t stand with a timer. ... We want to achieve the goals of the operation. Previous operations lasted a long time, so it is not possible to set a time frame on the operation." CNN notes that on Tuesday he said the attacks would persist for "as long as necessary to restore calm to the citizens of Israel."

  • As for what could spur a ceasefire, from Hamas' perspective two conditions would have to be met. ABC News quotes a senior official as saying, "One, Israeli forces must stop incursions into the Al-Asqa compound and respect the site. Two, Israel must stop the forced evacuation of the Palestinian residents in the Sheikh Jarah neighborhood." The response the network got from an Israeli official: "Hamas has to come out of this defeated."
  • Per the Gaza Ministry of Health, 219 Palestinians, 63 of them children, have been killed. In the past week Hamas has launched 3,750 rockets toward Israel, only 10% of which were not intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system. Those that have made it through are responsible for 12 deaths, 2 of them children.
  • In terms of the focus of Israel's rockets, NPR quotes an Israeli military rep who on Tuesday said Hamas' network of tunnels in the Gaza Strip are the "backbone" of its operation and what Israel is going after. NPR notes they're typically located in heavily populated areas, jacking up the risk of civilian casualties.
  • But the New York Times reports Israel isn't just after those tunnels. It has also "engaged in a parallel clandestine strategy: a targeted killing campaign against Hamas’s military leadership." The primary target is Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif, and a military rep stated it plainly: "Throughout the operation, we have tried to assassinate Mohammed Deif." The 55-year-old has reportedly survived eight assassination attempts over the years.
  • Also on Wednesday, militants fired rockets from southern Lebanon into northern Israel, raising the possibility of a second front. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, per the AP, and Hezbollah has stayed out of the fighting for now. The AP reports "the barrage appears to be carefully calibrated to send a political message that the group, which has tens of thousands of missiles, could join the battle at any time. Israel considers Hezbollah to be its most formidable threat, and has threatened widespread destruction in Lebanon if war were to erupt."
(Read more Israel stories.)

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