The New West Bank Terrorist Group Attacking Israelis and Opposed to the Palestinian Authority

Sept. 29 2022

In the past few weeks, the IDF has killed at least five Palestinians affiliated with a new organization calling itself the Lions’ Den, which has claimed responsibility for repeatedly shooting at the village of Har Bracha, and for attacks on Israeli soldiers. Khaled Abu Toameh explains what is known about this group:

No one knows exactly how many young men have joined the Lions’ Den. It’s also not clear who funds the group. A Palestinian Authority (PA) security source, however, estimated that the group has fewer than 100 gunmen from several Palestinian factions. “These young men have formed a militia that believes in the armed struggle,” said the source. “It’s possible that some factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, give them money to buy weapons.”

[The group’s] members are all in their twenties and belong to the post-second-intifada generation of Palestinians. Some of the gunmen hail from middle-class families and are said to have purchased their weapons with their own money. This is the first organized armed group that consists of gunmen belonging to a number of Palestinian factions—including Fatah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Last week, Palestinian sources revealed that the senior Hamas operative Musab Shtayyeh, who was recently arrested by the Palestinian Authority security forces, was also a member of the Lions’ Den. His arrest triggered fierce clashes between Palestinian protesters and PA security forces in Nablus. One Palestinian was killed and several others were injured in the clashes. Some Fatah activists have accused Hamas of instigating the violence in Nablus.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, West Bank

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount