Who are the Lions’ Den armed group in the occupied West Bank? | Occupied West Bank News

The newly emerged group has claimed several attacks against the Israelis and says they aim to unite Palestinians.

An armed group has emerged from Nablus, in the occupied West Bank to the north, over the past few months, and appears to be changing the course of the Palestinian resistance.

The Lions’ Den was infamous for its attacks on Israeli checkpoints, soldiers, and settlements.

Israel attempted to destroy this group, as well as others, in an operation codenamed “Break the Wave”, which resulted in near-daily raids and dozens of Palestinian deaths.

But so far, the group remains active, with little sign that the occupied Palestinian territory will be pacified any time soon.

Who are the members of Lions’ Den?

  • The group’s members are mostly young men in their 20s, who have personal ties to the four main traditional Palestinian political parties: Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. .
  • However, the fighting group is faction; The members have stated in statements that they do not belong to or take orders from any party, turning their backs on factional disputes, and instead focusing on opposing the Israeli occupation.

  • Some members have been in Palestinian Authority (PA) prisons before, mainly for possession of weapons. PA recently arrested one of the top members of the group, Musab Shtayyeh by Hamas, a move that led to an escalation of tensions in the streets of Nablus.

When was the group’s first official appearance?

  • The Lions’ Den’s first official appearance was on September 2 during a memorial service held in Nablus for two of its fighters – Mohammed al-Azizi, the group’s founder, and Abd al-Rahman Sobh – who had been killed by the Israelis 40 days earlier.

  • The group’s charter and resistance program were announced the same day. It said the group would continue to target Israeli forces and settlers.
  • The statement blamed what it called Israel’s “arrogance” and the killing of Palestinians for the rise in violence.
  • The Lions’ Den also addressed members of the PA’s security forces to emphasize the war was aimed solely at the Israeli occupation.

Who are the prominent members of the group?

  • On February 8, Israeli special forces shot three Palestinian men died in their car. The men – Ashraf Mubaslat, Mohammad Dakhil and Adham Mabrouka – were members of Lions’ Den.
  • On August 9, 19-year-old Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, known as The Lion of Nablus, was also killed by Israel after soldiers surrounded an old house he was hiding in and fired rockets at it. The Islamic Sabbath warrior was also killed during the operation.
    Ibrahim al-Nabulsi
    Ibrahim al-Nabulsi [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]
  • Nabulsi was widely supported by the Palestinian people as he evaded Israeli capture for several months, and briefly reappeared – and defiantly – at other Lions’ funerals’ Den. In general, the fighters seem to be respected by many Palestinians.
  • Recently, Tamer al-Kilani, a top boxer of the group, was killed after an explosive device placed on a motorcycle in the Old City of Nablus exploded as he passed by. The Lions’ Den has blamed Israel, which has not yet commented on the incident.
  • On Tuesday, three other senior members – Hamdi Qayyem, Wadee al-Hawah and Mish’al Baghdadi, 27 – were killed after Israeli forces struck Nablus.

What’s next for Lions’ Den?

  • Tensions in the West Bank have peaked with Israeli arrests, raids and daily killings of Palestinians as a direct result of growing organization of small armed resistance groups in Nablus and Jenin.
  • In the past month alone, three Israeli soldiers have been killed in separate attacks.
  • The Lions’ Den has since claimed responsibility for a number of shootings, including the one on October 11, in which an Israeli soldier was killed near the settlement of Shavei Shomron, northwest of Nablus. The city has been besieged by Israel ever since, with heavy restrictions on the movement of some 420,000 Palestinians.
    People gather outside the home of the Palestinian Lions' Den member Wadee Al-Houh
    People gather outside the home of Lions’ Den member Wadee al-Hawah, which was targeted during a raid by Israeli forces, in Nablus, West Bank, October 25, 2022 [Raneen Sawafta/Reuters]
  • But with Israel carrying out targeted assassinations against members of the group, some analysts believe Lions’ Den is a movement that won’t last, while others see the phenomenon. This repeats in other regions.
  • Sources told Al Jazeera that 15-20 core members wanted by Israel refused to turn themselves in, including to the PA.

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