The year of growth for terrorist groups in the West Bank

In 2022, armed terrorist groups sprung up in the northern West Bank that carry out attacks against the IDF and the settlers, they operate from areas A which are under the exclusive control of the PA. PA chairman Abu Mazen avoids direct confrontation with the terrorist groups and does not dismantle them contrary to the Oslo Accords. The Netanyahu government must change the rules of his game.

The wave of terrorism continues in the West Bank despite the efforts of the Shin Bet and the IDF to curb it, the IDF’s large arrest operation that has been going on for nine months is not effective enough to stop it even though it thwarts many attacks.

The wave of terrorism is led by armed terrorist groups, some of which have begun to operate in the field independently, but they are currently supported by the Islamic Jihad and Hamas organizations and also by Iran.

During 2022, the PA lost its security control over the Nablus and Jenin areas in the northern West Bank, the PA fears a frontal and military confrontation with the armed groups as long as they do not pose a direct threat to the PA leadership in Ramallah.

PA chairman Abu Mazen tells his associates that he fears that such a conflict will lead to a civil war in the West Bank, before foreign parties he claims that the reason for the growth of terrorist groups lies in the fact that the IDF enters the centers of Palestinian cities and Area A on a daily basis in violation of the Oslo Accords and these groups protect the Palestinian citizens.

The security forces of the PA try to bring about the disbandment of the groups “peacefully”, that is, through the lure of money and jobs, Palestinian officials say that the PA is ready to pay an amount of 25 thousand dollars for every weapon that is handed over to it in the Nablus area.

In the northern West Bank, 6 armed terrorist groups operate.

In the Jenin area – the Jenin Battalion, the Jabba groups, the Kabatya groups and the Birkin groups.
In the Nablus area – the Lions Den and the Balata Battalion.

The terrorist operatives in these groups are young people in their twenties who have not experienced the second intifada, they lack military experience but managed to quickly and efficiently integrate into the wave of terrorism, according to security officials in Israel, the current wave of terrorism is much more dangerous than the wave of terrorism that was in 2015.

According to Palestinian sources, during 2022 230 Palestinians were killed, of which 171 people were killed in the West Bank.

According to estimates in both the IDF and the Palestinian Authority, the wave of terror will continue in 2023 as well and it is possible that it will increase because of the Palestinian Authority’s reluctance to confront the terrorist activities of these groups and because of the change of government in Israel.

The new terrorist groups that emerged in the West Bank will continue to challenge the IDF forces and weaken the Palestinian Authority.

The Netanyahu-Gallant government will have to deal more harshly with these terrorist groups that operate from areas A which are under the full sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority. The
Palestinian Authority does not fight terrorism in the northern West Bank contrary to the Oslo Accords and it presents itself as “weak” in order to avoid a direct confrontation with the terrorist groups.

Security officials in Israel say that the PA has enough military power to dismantle the terrorist groups, but this is a political decision of the PA chairman.

The Bennett and Lapid governments did not put enough pressure on the PA chairman to act against the armed groups and accepted the his explanations, in the city of Nablus, the terrorist groups have become a force that endangers the IDF forces and settlers who want to visit Yosef’s tomb, and also when they are moving on the main roads in the Nablus area.

The Netanyahu government must clarify to the PA that it is obligated according to the Oslo agreement to dismantle the terrorist groups in the northern West Bank by all means, including the use of force, the PA claims that during 2022 it arrested about 60 security personnel who helped the armed groups, this activity is not enough and the message of the new government in Israel to the Palestinian Authority must be clear and decisive.

Failure to dismantle the armed terrorist groups will encourage the establishment of new terrorist groups that will also try to carry out terrorist attacks inside Israel itself.


Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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