Thousands in Palestine mourn slain wife, baby of Hamas commander

Palestinians take part in the funeral of the wife of Hamas's military leader, Mohammed Deif, his infant son Ali and other Palestinians whom medics said were killed in Israeli air strikes, in the northern Gaza Strip on Aug 20, 2014.  -- PHOTO: RE
Palestinians take part in the funeral of the wife of Hamas's military leader, Mohammed Deif, his infant son Ali and other Palestinians whom medics said were killed in Israeli air strikes, in the northern Gaza Strip on Aug 20, 2014.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS

JABALIYA, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - Several thousand mourners on Wednesday joined the funeral procession for the wife and baby son of Hamas's military commander Mohammed Deif, angrily demanding revenge against Israel.

Firing Kalashnikovs into the air, they carried the bodies of 27-year-old Widad and her seven-month-old son Ali, who were among at least four people killed in a deadly air strike on Gaza City late on Tuesday.

The two bodies were wrapped in green Hamas flags as they were carried from the mosque to the cemetery in Jabaliya refugee camp. Mourners also carried the flag-wrapped bodies of two men killed in an air strike Wednesday on a motorcycle, both presumed Hamas militants.

"Revenge, revenge, revenge," shouted the crowd as they walked towards the cemetery waving Hamas flags and denouncing the killing of the second wife and infant son of Mr Deif, head of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

"We were shocked when we heard that Mohammed Deif's wife had been killed. We ask Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades to avenge this killing, this massacre," said a 22-year-old mourner who gave his name as Mohammed.

"I'm like all the other people in the Gaza Strip. I am no different from the others who have lost children. This is like a tsunami," said Ms Widad's angry father, Mustafa Harb Asfura, 56.

When his university-educated daughter married Mr Deif seven years ago, her father feared it was a death sentence.

"My daughter knew she would die a martyr when she decided to marry Mohammed Deif. Every moment since then I've been expecting to hear that she has died," he said.

Grief-stricken, Mr Asfura carried his tiny grandson from the family's small home in Jabaliya for prayers at the mosque, his body wrapped in a white sheet exposing his white face with bruising around the eyes.

Male relatives carried Ms Widad's body, wrapped in a green Hamas flag and white sheet, on their shoulders.

Mr Asfura said he had only seen his son-in-law once, when the couple married.

After that, he didn't even know where his daughter was living, such is the secrecy that surrounds Mr Deif in his determination to avoid detection by Israel.

Ms Widad and Mr Deif had two daughters and a son together. She also had two sons from a first marriage, the family said.

It was not clear where the couple's two girls were when the strike happened.

Hundreds of people crowded into the mosque for the funeral prayers but there was no sign of any Hamas officials.

Addressing the mourners, a young man passed on the condolences of the Qassam Brigades and prayers were read for two other men, who died earlier on Wednesday when a rocket hit their motorcycle in the northern town of Beit Lahiya.

A small group of women also entered the mosque to attend the prayers. Wearing black abayas, they stayed in a separate room, sobbing in grief.