An Israeli army officer gives journalists a tour of a tunnel allegedly used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks, at the Israel-Gaza Border. (AP/Jack Guez, Pool, File)
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Deep underground, Hamas commander shapes warIsraeli assassination attempts may have left him badly hurt and driven him deep underground, but Mohammad Deif, the shadowy leader of Hamas' armed wing in the Gaza Strip, has emerged as a mastermind of the war with Israel. Hamas does not comment on Deif's health and says he has been in full command of its military wing since the 1990s.Israel says it has killed hundreds of Hamas fighters and destroyed more than 30 tunnels.A Hamas source, who has known Deif since the 1990s, said Deif has been at the heart of developments inside the armed wing since 1994 .Rising up the ranks of Hamas, Deif has topped Israel's most wanted list for decades, held personally responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings.In a rare audio message broadcast on July 29, Deif said Hamas would continue confronting Israel until its blockade on Gaza -- which is supported by neighboring Egypt -- was lifted.Deif's commander and mentor, according to Hamas, was Emad Akel, his predecessor as leader of its armed wing in the Gaza Strip.
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