Hamas commander Mohammed Deif ‘may be dead’

One of the few pictures of Hamas commander, Mohammed Deif

One of the few pictures of Hamas commander, Mohammed Deif

Israeli intelligence officials have told Fox News that Hamas’s chief military commander, Mohammed Deif, may have been killed in Wednesday’s airstrikes across Gaza.

The report is the first public statement by Israeli sources that Deif could be dead.

The news comes as Israel prepares for a second ground invasion of Gaza in response to over 100 rockets and mortar shells fired by Palestinian militants last night and throughout Wednesday.

A new round of Israeli air strikes hit 30 targets in Gaza overnight and a new batch of 2,000 reserve IDF troops have been called up.

One strike was aimed at senior Hamas commander Mohammed Deif but early reports indicate that his wife and son were killed, while Deif himself has not yet been identified in the rubble.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon in talks with IDF commanders on how to respond to Hamas rockets during Operation Protective Edge (Photo: Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense/Flash90)

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon in talks with IDF commanders on how to respond to Hamas rockets during Operation Protective Edge (Photo: Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense/Flash90)

Egypt has urgently called on both sides to restart ceasefire talks in Cairo as the violence threatens to spiral out of control once again.

Meanwhile, political opposition within Israel to the Netanyahu government’s handling of the conflict appears to be growing.

Labour Member of Knesset Erel Margalit launched a scathing attack on the prime minister, saying that Benjamin Netanyahu’s security decisions were “a disgrace” and “paralysing Israel”.

The Gaza health ministry claims that 11 Palestinians were killed during last night’s Israeli bombing raids, bringing the total death toll of the conflict to 2,018.

Last updated: 4:55pm, August 20 2014