October 13, 2022 | Flash Brief

New Terrorist Group on the Rise in the West Bank

October 13, 2022 | Flash Brief

New Terrorist Group on the Rise in the West Bank

Latest Developments 

A new Palestinian terrorist group known as The Lions’ Den claimed responsibility on Tuesday for killing an Israeli soldier in the West Bank. An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) statement said two suspects “arrived in a vehicle adjacent to the community of Shavei Shomron” and shot at IDF soldiers “conducting operational security activity.” The shooting follows a string of high-profile attacks claimed by the Nablus-based group against IDF troops and Israeli communities in recent weeks. The organization’s establishment reflects the undermining of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) rule by terrorist groups.

Expert Analysis

“The Palestinian Authority has demonstrated far too little appetite to tackle the growing problem of militant organizations in its territory. This lax approach has led to a marked increase in attacks against IDF troops and Israeli communities. These militant organizations, which view Israel as an enemy and the PA as a failing institution, operate largely unchecked. The PA must reassert its control in the northern West Bank to curb the erosion of its influence by militias linked to Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran.” – Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Increasing Violence in the West Bank

Militant activity in the West Bank escalated long before the establishment of The Lions’ Den in September 2021. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have grown in numbers in the northern West Bank and have frequently clashed with IDF troops since last year. The Lions’ Den, for its part, has claimed responsibility for numerous shooting attacks against IDF troops and Israeli communities in the West Bank. For example, one of its cells carried out a September 22 attack on Har Bracha, an Israeli community near Nablus, though it did not result in any casualties. 

The Palestinian Authority’s Lax Security Enforcement

The PA has made only sporadic efforts to limit the illegal activity of The Lions’ Den and other terrorist groups. At one point, the PA negotiated with The Lions’ Den to lay down its arms in exchange for joining the Palestinian security forces. The talks ultimately failed when the group refused to surrender its weapons. In another case, The Lions’ Den apprehended a group of Israelis who drove into Nablus, but PA security forces reacted quickly and transferred the Israelis to IDF custody.

Stopping the Flow of Weapons

To curb the violent acts committed by The Lions’ Den and other Palestinian terrorist organizations, Israel and the PA need to stop the flow of illegal weapons into the West Bank. The IDF said in August that it prevented “approximately 300” illicit weapons from entering Israel this year. The Iranian proxy Hezbollah sent some of these arms in an effort to further destabilize the West Bank.

Related Analysis

Hezbollah smuggling weapons to the West Bank amid surge in militant activity,” by Joe Truzman

A Newly Established Militant Organization in the West Bank Claims Several Attacks,” by Joe Truzman


Israel Jihadism Palestinian Politics