October 27, 2022 | Flash Brief

More Chaos in the West Bank as Palestinian Authority Loses Grip

October 27, 2022 | Flash Brief

More Chaos in the West Bank as Palestinian Authority Loses Grip

Latest Developments

On Tuesday, the leader of the new Palestinian terrorist group, Lions’ Den was killed along with four other Palestinian gunmen during a raid by Israeli troops. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) undertook the raid into Nablus as part of Operation Breakwater, which the IDF launched in March following a Palestinian terrorism spree that killed 19 in Israel. The week’s violence shows that the IDF will continue to address the lack of Palestinian Authority (PA) governance of the West Bank with military action.

Expert Analysis

“The IDF’s Operation Breakwater has so far been successful at bringing the fight to Palestinian militants in the northern West Bank and keeping Israeli citizens safe. If Israeli casualties stay low, this unfortunate game of cat and mouse in the West Bank will likely continue. However, if Palestinian terrorists perpetrate a mass casualty event in Israel, Breakwater will likely move into a whole new phase. This kind of outcome is in neither Israel nor the PA’s interest.” Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and Senior Director of FDD’s National Security Network

The Lions’ Den

The Lions’ Den terrorist group is decentralized and does not affiliate with the more established organized terrorist groups in the West Bank, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The group, based in Nablus in the northern West Bank, has a strong social media following. In only three months, the Lions’ Den has built a Telegram following of 239,000, surpassing Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades by more than 50,000. The terrorist group’s decision to remain independent from the traditional Palestinian factions reflects a deep frustration with the broader Palestinian establishment in addition to the expected resentment of Israel.

Speculation About a Third Intifada

The number of Palestinian shooting attacks against Israelis in the West Bank has spiked this year and is rising significantly on a monthly basis. Operation Breakwater has entailed near nightly IDF raids in the West Bank, causing heightened friction between the IDF and the Palestinian population. So far, Israeli security forces have made over 2,000 arrests. As a result of the sustained tensions, media outlets have begun speculating about the possibility of a third Palestinian intifada.

Recalling the Second Intifada

Operation Breakwater is the biggest IDF operation in the West Bank since the second intifada, which lasted from 2000 to 2005. During that time, Palestinian terrorists targeted buses, cafes, nightclubs, and other civilian areas, killing more than 1,000 Israelis. Israel responded by launching Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, resulting in heavy fighting and loss of life.

The Palestinian Authority Has Lost Its Grip on Parts of the West Bank

In September, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said that “the increase in terrorism stems from the helplessness of the Palestinian Authority security forces” and “a lack of governance” in regions of the West Bank. Confrontations between Palestinian militants and the IDF are concentrated in the northern West Bank, particularly around the cities of Jenin and Nablus, where the PA’s Palestinian National Security Forces no longer have control of the populations.

Related Analysis

Israel is Fighting to Prevent a Third Intifada,” by Enia Krivine

New Terrorist Group on the Rise in the West Bank,” FDD Flash Brief


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Palestinian Politics