A Newly Established Militant Organization in the West Bank Claims Several Attacks

A nascent Palestinian militant organization called The Lion’s Den (TLD) has been established in the West Bank and have publish statements claiming shooting attacks against Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops.

In late Aug., TLD published their first official statement claiming responsibility for an armed clash against IDF soldiers in the Palestinian village of Rugib, located in the West Bank. Though, Palestinian media reported about the group’s activity on Aug. 15.

Days later, the organization held what appears to be its first rally in honor of two militants who were killed in late July during an armed clash with IDF troops operating in Nablus.

In the following weeks, TLD made several more claims of responsibility for shooting at IDF troops operating in the Balata camp, al-Ain camp, and detonating an IED inside Har Braha, south of Nablus.

On Sep. 9, Israeli police foiled a large-scale terrorist attack in southern Tel Aviv. The would-be terrorist was apprehended when he arose the suspicion of police officers. After his arrest, a rifle, two IEDs and a bandana bearing the logo of TLD was found on his person.

FDD’s Long War Journal reached out to an Israeli Police spokesperson for further information on the suspect’s possible affiliation to TLD and was told the investigation was being led by the General Security Services (Shin Bet) which prevented the spokesperson from commenting on the matter.

Lastly, on Tuesday morning, TLD published a statement and documentation claiming responsibility for a shooting attack against the Har Braha settlement near Nablus.

Not a lot is known about the organization’s background. Though, the Dheisheh camp, located south of Bethlehem, has often been referred to as “the lion’s den” suggesting the group may have originally been founded by members from the camp. Additionally, it remains unclear if TLD is a splinter organization of an established militant group such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad or al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. However, there are some clues that suggest their affiliation to al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

On several occasions, TLD has published its logo with the picture of two militants killed in late July, Muhammed al-Azizi and Abdul Subh, both members of the Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Furthermore, TLD said in a statement published on Sep. 3 that Azizi and Subh were its founding members. The evidence suggests TLD is following the same pattern of other sub groups that have been formed this year who are affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad or al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) rule in pockets of the West Bank has weakened over time thus leading to militant organizations strengthening their positions and expanding their activity in a handful of Palestinian cities. While militant activity has not developed to the level it was during the second intifada, the growing trend in violence presents a significant challenge which will likely continue if major changes are not implemented by the IDF and the PA.

Joe Truzman is a contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.

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