In the past few days, the IDF and Shin Bet have conducted a series of successful raids in Nablus against the terrorist group known as the Lions’ Den, killing one of its leaders and destroying a bomb factory. A relatively new organization, based in Samaria and opposed to the Palestinian Authority, the Lions’ Den is responsible for numerous attacks in recent weeks. Residents of Nablus are now reportedly frustrated that leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad haven’t intervened on their behalf, as Yoni Ben Menachem writes:
It is Hamas that in recent months has pushed the residents of the West Bank and east Jerusalem towards a new armed intifada against Israel while promising that it would actually support such an intifada and assist it by firing rockets from the Gaza Strip. Hamas also leads a large support campaign for Lions’ Den via social media and even transferred more than a million dollars to finance its activities. However, despite this support, no rockets were fired from the Strip towards Israel.
Senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials threatened yesterday that the Gaza Strip “will join the conflict in the event of an imminent escalation in the West Bank,” as if there had been no escalation until now. Why has the Gaza Strip remained silent so far?
There are several reasons: a) pragmatism on the part of the Hamas that wants to keep receiving monthly Qatari financial aid to the Gaza Strip, the continued entry of thousands of workers from the Gaza Strip to work in Israel, and the humanitarian relief and rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip from the damage done in recent wars; b) Hamas has still not restored the tunnel system and rocket production that was severely damaged in the war of May 2021; c) Israel learned the lessons from its military operation in May 2021 and formulated a new strategy of . . . severing the connection between the Gaza Strip, on the one hand, and east Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Israeli Arabs, on the other.
The big question is whether the deterrence of Hamas and Islamic Jihad will continue even if Israel conducts a large military operation in Nablus and Jenin to eliminate the terrorist infrastructure.