New resistance in the West Bank scares Israel
On October 11, Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli soldier near the illegal Jewish settlement of Shavei Shomron, west of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus. On the same day, masked men opened fire on four other Israeli targets on the outskirts of the city.
A total of five operations were carried out in one day, apparently by the newly created resistance faction called Lion’s Den (Areen Al-Osood) who claimed responsibility.
An unusual high-level security meeting was held in Israel on Sunday, on the eve of a national festival, which included Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, National Security Council Chairman Eyal Hulata, Mossad chief David Barnea, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar and military intelligence chief Aharon Haliva, according to Israeli media.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the new phenomenon of resistance in the West Bank, the lion’s den, which Ha’aretz calls it a “major headache” for the Israeli state. Earlier in the day, the Israeli Defense Ministry denied entry permits to 164 Palestinian family members allegedly linked to the lion’s den.
Who are the Lion’s Den?
What do we know so far about Lion’s Den, a West Bank resistance group that Defense Minister Gantz says poses a challenge to Israeli security, repeatedly demanding that the Palestinian Authority (PA) limit its expanding?
The first nucleus of this group was formed last February in Nablus, when the Israeli security forces assassinated Muhammad al-Dakhil, Ashraf Mubaslat and Adham Mabrouka, all members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the branch member of the Fatah movement.
The three were friends with Jamil al-Amouri, a leader of Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and founder of the Jenin Brigades, who was assassinated by Israeli forces in early June 2021.
In retaliation, the trio, along with Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, were involved in a series of firing operations at occupation army checkpoints in the city. The lack of support from Fatah to which they belong prompted them to seek help from other factions, notably Hamas and the PIJ, which provided them with material and logistical support.
After Nabulsi’s assassination on August 9, 2022, he and others have become national icons for the Palestinian public, joining the long list of famous Nablus martyrs. Policy researcher Majd Dargham said The cradle that “Nablus has a special status in relation to the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement, which does not allow any other organization to be active there”.
Since the Nablus Brigade of the Al-Quds Brigades did not have much chance of success, it was necessary to form new non-partisan groups, composed mainly of Fatah fighters. This is how the Lion’s Den was born and how, in a short time, it transformed into a multi-faction group dominated by members of Fatah.
The leader speaks
The leader of the lion’s den, who addressed The cradle on condition of anonymity, stressed that his group was “founded for the resistance. We renounce partisanship, and we work in unity for God and nation, and we reach out to every member of any faction who wants to engage with us outside of their party affiliation.
Over the past month, Palestinian resistance military operations in the West Bank have resulted in the deaths of four Israeli soldiers and around 800 clashes have been recorded.
In a Haaretz report entitled “The Nablus lion’s den has become a major headache for Israel and the Palestinian Authority”, the authors of the article, Yaniv Kubovich and Jack Khoury, posit that the main problem with this new resistance group is that most of its members belong to Fatah and come from large families in Nablus.
This places the PA in an embarrassing position because any operation targeting the lion’s den by the Israeli-backed Palestinian security forces will mean that the PA will shoot itself in the foot and destroy what remains of its legitimacy with Fatah and of his supporters.
While acknowledging that “the situation in the West Bank is very sensitive”, Gantz said in a press release that the elimination of the lion’s den, which numbers no more than 30 young men, is “possible”.
However, the leader of the group responded to this by saying The cradle“Gantz will be surprised very soon by our numbers and our working methods and how far we can go.” According to Dergham, The Lion’s Den’s popularity is not limited to the Old City of Nablus – its influence now extends to all parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
He adds: “Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, Muhammad al-Azizi, Abboud Sobh and others have become icons. Anyone who assaults them or arrests their friends will appear as an occupation security agent, and this is what the authority (PA) cannot tolerate.
“Keep Your Arms”
Prior to his assassination, Ibrahim al-Nabulsi left a message in simple colloquial Arabic, in which he said: “For the honor of your families, keep your weapons.
These words formed the founding charter of the lion’s den, which first appeared on September 2 at the memorial ceremony held for their martyr fighters Muhammad al-Azizi and Abd Al-Rahman Subh, who were killed by the Israeli forces during a military raid. in Nablus on July 24.
Dressed in black, fully masked and with arms held high and close to their right, the Lion’s Den members marched through the streets and alleys of Nablus’ Old City, with hundreds in attendance.
One of the masked men recited the group’s charter, in which he proclaimed the lion’s den as “a phenomenon of continued resistance derived from its unity on the ground and from the roots of past revolution”.
He added that “the arrogance of the occupation imposes renewed struggles on us as resistance fighters, the form of which the occupation cannot expect, especially since this organized and self-managed resistance is capable every day to renew the blood in the veins of resistance in many forms and methods.
He also reminded his colleagues “not to leave the weapon under any pretext and to direct it towards the occupier, its settlers and those who collaborate with the enemy”, and called on their “brothers in the war”. [PA] security services to unite and direct our weapons to occupation only.
On September 19, PA security services arrested Hamas member Musab Shtayyeh, who is also one of the leaders of The Lion’s Den. In response, the group called for protests that included clashes with Palestinian policemen.
After two days of tension and protests, the group issued a statement saying that “internal fighting serves only the occupation, and our weapons will only be directed against the enemy”. Calm has returned to the city and since then Lion’s Den fighters have carried out dozens of shooting attacks on settler cars and Israeli military checkpoints.
Due to the group’s growing popularity across the West Bank, several Palestinian factions have sought to claim affiliation with the lion’s den, prompting the resistance group to issue statements that it acts independently. The leader of Lion’s Den tells The cradle: “The Qassam, Saraya [Al-Quds Brigades] and the Fatah members who operate within the den are involved within a national framework and do not represent their parties.
“All are our brothers. When the protests against the arrest of Musab Shtayyeh were about to turn into a conflict, we chose to end it, to point our compass towards the occupier,” he said. Explain.
The Hebrew Channel 13, which describes the group as a “terrorist organization”, concedes that: “in less than a year, [the Lion’s Den] have gone from an obscure organization to one that has more influence than any known Palestinian faction, and threatens the security of Israelis and the stability of the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinian resistance source in Nablus confirms The cradle that the lion’s den has indeed broadened the resistance in the West Bank, moving from confrontation to military incursions and random raids to organized operations against the collective occupying forces.
Recent operations have shown that they are working according to a well-thought-out strategy based on undermining any possibility of order that the occupation army and the settlers seek to enforce in the towns of the West Bank.
Nevertheless, the leader of Den’s expects difficult days in Nablus, the stronghold of the group. In addition to a major security campaign that Israeli forces can launch on the city at any time to eliminate the group’s infrastructure, the docile PA is going to great lengths to contain the group.
Recently, the PA offered to co-opt members of Lion’s Den into its security services, in exchange for an Israeli guarantee that they would not be prosecuted. The leader of the group replied thus: “We rejected all the offers. We will not exploit the blood of martyrs for personal gain.
According to observers, the new resistance faction has progressed to such an extent that it is now firmly beyond the stage of possible containment or elimination, and the next few days will likely see its expansion into various towns and camps in the West Bank.