Ayyash, Yahya (1966–1996)

aka the Engineer

Palestinian Yahya Ayyash, a notorious Hamas commander, is said to have been as greatly loved by Palestinians as he was hated by Israelis. Ayyash achieved a near-mythical status as a man who always escaped detection by Israel's intelligence service. He is said to have masterminded multiple suicide attacks in Israel that killed nearly 70 civilians and injured more than 300. Ayyash was assassinated on January 5, 1996, by a booby-trapped cellular phone allegedly planted by Shin Bet, Israel's security service. Nearly 100,000 people, about 11 percent of Gaza's population, marched at Ayyash's funeral. Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat gave him a 21-gun salute.

The son of a farmer, Ayyash was born in Rafat, a village in the West Bank highlands. He studied electrical engineering and chemistry at the Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, Saudi Arabia. In the first large attack allegedly planned by ...

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