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The Lions’ Den Terrorist Group Raises its Head Again

March 31, 2023

by: Yoni Ben Menachem ~ JCPA

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The Lion’s Den Resistance Brigades emblem

Friday, 31 March 2023 | The Lions’ Den terrorist group operating in Nablus and its neighboring villages has rehabilitated itself in recent months, as new members have joined its ranks. It continues its terrorist attacks against IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers and Israeli civilians and poses a security challenge to the Palestinian Authority [PA] and Israel.

The Lions’ Den began operating in August 2022, after the Jenin Battalion terrorist group was established in Jenin. Its establishment was also a result of the IDF military operation in Gaza in May 2021, the weakening of the PA and the lack of a political horizon in the Israeli–Palestinian track.

Israel’s security forces continue intensive activity to thwart attacks by Lions’ Den members.

The PA security forces have failed to act against the group, under orders of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, as long as it did not endanger his rule. To date, Israeli security forces have killed more than 20 members, but the group has about a hundred members.

For several months, the PA has detained Moushab Ishtayeh, a senior Hamas operative and a member of Lions’ Den, in [a] Jericho prison. The group was founded by Muhammad Al-Azizi, a member of the “Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades” of the Fatah [leading secular Palestinian political party] movement.

Ishtayeh transferred Hamas funds from Turkey to finance the group’s operations. Sources in Nablus claim that although this group is independent and does not belong to any organization, it continues to receive funds from Hamas, which also supports it through its media and social networks.

Most of the group’s members belong to Fatah, who were joined by Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters, but its agenda seems independent. It aims to spark a new armed intifada [uprising] against Israel in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria].

A turning point in Israel’s dealing with the Lions’ Den terrorist group came on October 23, 2022, when the IDF and Israel Security Agency carried out a daring operation in the heart of the old city of Nablus, the group’s main stronghold, and killed terrorist leader Tamir Al-Kilani in a sophisticated operation using a booby-trapped motorcycle. He was one of the group’s founders. Two days later, on October 25, the IDF blew up the group’s explosives laboratory, where it prepared explosive devices, and five terrorists were killed.

These actions shocked the group and the residents of Nablus. As a result, the families of surviving members of the group pressured them to hand themselves over to the PA. The pressure worked, and members of the group surrendered to the PA out of fear that the IDF would kill them.

PA officials claim that, to date, about 20 members have surrendered to the PA, handing over their weapons. In the future, they will be employed by the PA’s security forces and receive a monthly salary.

The PA claims it continues to pressure members of the Lions’ Den to hand themselves over to the PA in exchange for various incentives.

Lions’ Den Members Are Social Media Stars

The Lions’ Den group recently published a message announcing its intention to carry out terrorist attacks during the month of Ramadan [one of the Five Pillars of Islam when stringent disciplines are observed].

Its members are stars on social media. Through TikTok, they have become a role model for the young Palestinian generation who did not experience the Second Intifada. The group’s very sophisticated propaganda mechanism spreads its message throughout the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. With the great popularity it has gained, it allows itself to give instructions to the entire Palestinian public regarding general strikes or “Days of Rage” and violence against Israel.

Pictures of the group’s members are hung in West Bank cities, huge pictures of its martyrs are posted in the center of Gaza City, and some even appear in Jordan and Iraq.

The recovery of the Lions’ Den group and its re-strengthening in the field is a significant challenge for the IDF and the PA. A senior Israeli security official says that the group is now challenging the understandings reached between the Palestinians, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the United States in the recent security meetings in Aqaba and Sharm El-Sheikh.

The PA has pledged to adopt the security plan of American General Michael Fenzel to fight terrorism. It is supposed to train 5,000 security personnel in Jordan with American aid. The new force would then deploy in the northern West Bank to fight the armed terrorist groups and disarm them. Their main target is the Lions’ Den group in Nablus.

So far, Lions’ Den has carried out about 100 shooting attacks in which Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed and wounded. It also planned attacks inside pre-1967 Israel that the Israel Security Agency thwarted, and it is still planning attacks in Israel’s major cities.

The political echelon in Israel must make a fateful decision to end the activities of this terrorist group before it succeeds in carrying out a major attack in the center of the country.

There seems to be no escape from a significant military operation in Nablus with a massive and prolonged entry into its old city (kasbah), house-to-house searches, arrests or killing of the terrorists and the dismantling of its terrorist infrastructure. The Lions’ Den group continues to grow stronger, and the confrontation between it and Israel’s security forces is inevitable.

Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. He served as Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Posted on March 31, 2023

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on March 29, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: F aisal/

Photo License: wikimedia

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