The Lions Den terrorist group that operates in the city of Nablus and its neighboring villages has managed to rehabilitate itself in recent months, new members have joined its ranks and it continues its terrorist attacks against IDF soldiers and settlers and poses a security challenge to the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
The Lions Den began operating in August 2022, after the Jenin Battalion terrorist group had already been established in the city of Jenin, and its establishment is also a result of the IDF’s military operation in the Gaza Strip 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 members of the Lions’ Den group.
The security forces of the PA do not act against it according to the order of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, as long as it does not endanger his rule, to date the IDF and Shin Bet have killed more than 20 terrorists who are members of the group, but the group has about more hundred members.
The PA is still detaining in Jericho prison for several months Moushab Ishtayeh, a senior Hamas operative, who is a member of the Lions Den group, which was founded by Muhammad Al-Azizi, a member of the “Alaqsa Martyrs Brigades” group of the Fatah 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 the Hamas movement, which also supports it through its media and social networks.
Most of the group’s members belong to the Fatah movement and were joined by Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists, but it seems that its agenda is independent and it is working to bring about a new armed intifada against Israel in the West Bank.
A turning point in Israel’s dealings with this terrorist group was at the end of last year, on October 23, 2022, the IDF and Shin Bet carried out a daring operation in the heart of the old city of Nablus, which is the group’s main stronghold, and assassinated the terrorist Tamer Al-kilani in a sophisticated operation using a trapped motorcycle , he was one of the group’s leaders and founders and two days later, on October 25, they blew up the group’s explosives laboratory where it prepared explosive devices and killed 5 of its members.
These actions shocked the group and the residents of the city of Nablus, the families of the terrorists who were members of the group began to exert pressure on them to hand themselves over to the PA, the pressure worked and a process of self-handover of members of the group to the PA began for fear that they would be killed by the IDF.
Officials in the PA claim that to date about 20 members of the group have turned themselves in to the PA, they handed over their weapons and will be placed in the future as members of the PA’s security forces and will receive a monthly salary.
According to them, the PA continues to put pressure on the members of the Lions’ Den so that they hand themselves over to the PA in exchange for various temptations.
Last week, the terrorist group Lions Den published a message in which it announced its intention to carry out terrorist attacks during the month of Ramadan.
Its members who are the stars of the social network Tik Tok has become a role model for the young Palestinian generation who did not experience the second intifada, it works through a very sophisticated propaganda mechanism to spread its message throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem and because of the great popularity it has gained, it allows itself to give behavioral instructions to the entire Palestinian public, such as instructions on general strikes or Days of rage and violence against Israel.
Pictures of the group’s members are hung in the West Bank cities, huge pictures of its martyrs were hung in the center of Gaza City, and some even reached Jordan and Iraq.
The recovery of the Lions Den group and its re-strengthening in the field is a great challenge for the IDF and the PA.
A senior security official says that the group is now challenging the understandings reached in the recent security meetings in Aqaba and Sharm Al-Sheikh.
The PA has pledged to adopt the security plan of American General Mike Fenzel to fight terrorism, it is supposed to train in Jordan, with American aid, about 5000 security personnel who it will later deploy in the northern West Bank and they will be supposed to fight against the armed terrorist groups and disarm them, one of the goals The main ones are the Lions Den group in Nablus.
So far, the group has carried out about 100 shooting attacks in which Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed, it has also planned attacks within the State of Israel that were thwarted by the Shin Bet and it is still planning additional attacks in the main cities of Israel.
The political echelon in Israel must make a fateful decision that will put an end to the activities of this terrorist group before it succeeds in penetrating the territory of Israel and carrying out a major attack in the center of the country.
It seems that there is no escape from a major military operation in the city of Nablus, a massive and prolonged entry into its old city (Kasbah), house-to-house searches and arrests or killings of the terrorists and the dismantling of its terrorist infrastructure, this group continues to grow stronger and the confrontation between it and Israel’s security forces is inevitable.