Khaled Mashaal
Khaled MashaalReuters

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal declared on Wednesday that the terrorist group has proof that Mohammed Deif, the leader of its “military wing”, was not killed by Israel.

Speaking to Vanity Fair magazine, Mashaal declared, however, that Hamas would not make this proof public.

"Israel failed to assassinate him, but was able to kill his wife and two children," said Mashaal, who was quoted by Israel’s Channel 10 News. "Deif is alive and will continue his war against the Israeli aggression and occupation."

While it is known that an Israeli airstrike during Operation Protective Edge this past summer targeted Deif’s home, there have been conflicting reports about his fate.

Israeli officials said at one point that Deif was killed in the IAF airstrikes, but Hamas denied this on several occasions.

Mashaal claimed in the Vanity Fair interview that Hamas has proof that Deif is alive but prefers not to make this proof public. "We have proof that he is alive but there is no need for everyone else to see it. Deif is not a politician that it is mandatory for him to be seen in public. He is a military man who was barely revealed to the masses even before the war," he said.

Deif  is considered the official who determines the agenda of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades and is regarded as the “brain” behind Hamas. He is likely hiding underground somewhere inside Gaza, fearing the IDF will try to eliminate him.

In the same interview, Mashaal also referred to the terrorist tunnels leading from Gaza to Israel and claimed that they were “defensive tunnels” which Hamas began to use for self-defense purposes only after Israel began attacking Gaza.

Regarding the thousands of rockets that were fired into Israel during the operation, Mashaal claimed that "they were only fired after the start of the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip as part of self-defense."