‘The Engineer’ brings to screen the manhunt of Yahya Ayyash, also known as the Engineer, for his ability to create bombs that wreaked havoc in Tel Aviv for several years. Based on real events, the movie unfolds from the perspective of the Israeli Shin Bet agents tasked with finding and, later, killing Ayyash. When they seem to have hit dead ends on every front, they turn towards the only thing they believe Ayyash couldn’t let go of no matter what: his family. His wife and children make a brief appearance in the movie, but what happened to them in real life?
Yahya Ayyash’s Family is Most Likely Still in Palestine
Yahya Ayyash was married to Umm al-Baraa Ayyash, with whom he had two children. As shown in the movie, he had a son, and his wife was pregnant with their second child while he was on the run from Israeli authorities. The film gets several points right about the way the Shin Bet agents approached the hunt for Ayyash. After exhausting all leads, they turned their focus towards his family, and that’s how they got him.
Reportedly, Shin Bet, aka ISA, had been keeping tabs on Ayyash’s wife for a while as they thought that family would be his weakness and that, sooner or later, he was bound to visit them. Initially, his wife and son lived in a village in the Samaria district, and he mostly communicated with them through the phone. However, later, his wife decided to move closer to where Ayyash was staying in the Gaza Strip so that they could be close to each other.
When the ISA found out about this, they not only closely followed her every move but are even said to have enabled the process of relocation. By March 1995, she and her son had moved to Beit-Lahiya. The agency kept an eye on her, but for months, nothing happened. It turned out that Ayyash was more cautious than they’d imagined, and he didn’t seem to flock anywhere near his wife and son’s location, and neither did the authorities track the wife’s movements to him. Still, the fact remained that Ayyash was somewhere close by because that was the main reason behind his family’s relocation.
It was also confirmed that he and his wife had been in contact when it was discovered that she was pregnant with their second child. This meant that they’d been meeting through secret channels which the ISA hadn’t uncovered yet and for them to be able to meet so easily without getting caught, they must have been in close vicinity to each other. The authorities deciphered that Ayyash must be staying somewhere in the Beit-Lahiya area, and they made serious efforts to figure out where he might have been staying. Eventually, their efforts bore fruit, and they figured out exactly where he had been staying.
Ayyash’s death was a huge shock and a blow to his organization, but his death is also said to have been the incident that brought together the movement he supported. Reportedly, he is considered a martyr by his people and has streets and even weapons named after him. In 2021, Hamas revealed that they’d named a missile after him, called Ayyash 250, a long-range surface-to-surface rocket produced by the organization, which is claimed to have a range of 250 km. Ayyash’s wife is reported to have expressed pride about the naming of the missile after her husband. The details of her current whereabouts and that of her children remain unknown. However, it is safe to assume that they still live somewhere in Palestine.