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.