The Lion’s Den and Similar Organizations‘ Impact on the Palestinian Political Reality

Who are the new militant movements emerging across the West Bank?

In recent times, more precisely in the period between 2021-22, several new militant organizations have appeared in the West Bank, stirring up discussions about the events and developments in this part of the Palestinian territories. Among these groups, the Lion’s Den organization (Arab. Areen al-ʾUsud, عرين الأسود) stood out. Information also appeared about armed organizations in the cities of Jenin, Tukaram, and Hebron, and they began to be referred to precisely according to their territorial operations: Jenin Brigade, Tukaram Brigade, Al-Khalil (Hebron) Brigade. However, none of them achieved the influence and attention of the Lion’s Den (the Jenin Brigade will be briefly discussed below), which will be the focus of attention in the following text.

Exact information about the Lion’s Den varies. Palestinian sources state the number of their members is up to around a hundred men, while Israeli sources tend to be in the lower tens. So far, this is not a radical Islamist formation but rather a group close to more secular forms of Palestinian nationalism. This is true despite numerous religious references in the organization’s statements or symbols, which are also characteristic of several other more secular Palestinian groups.

Its members are mainly young Palestinians from Nablus and its surroundings who, due to their age, could not participate in the violence of the second intifada (2000-2004). The founders of the organization were two young men aged 25 and 28. Both were reportedly killed by the Israeli army in fights in 2022. Further clashes with the Israeli army took place in March and September 2023. Regardless of the death of the founders, the organization shows signs of continued activity even after the terrorist attacks of Hamas on October 7, 2023, including on social networks.

Why Nablus and Jenin?

The situation of the Palestinians in the West Bank has gradually worsened since the collapse of the peace process, and the year 2022 was one of the most violent since the so-called “Intifada of knives” in 2015. In 2022, there was a significant activation of Israeli settlers in the vicinity of Nablus. It should be remembered here that many of the local settlers are not secular; they include a relevant proportion of extremists inspired by the violent ideology of Rabbi Kahane. The Lion’s Den thus arose in the context of an increase in violence by extremist Jewish settlers around Nablus. In October 2022, it claimed responsibility for the killing of an Israeli soldier and armed actions against settlers, bringing a wave of anti-Palestinian repression to the area. In Spring 2023, Lions‘ Den also executed a Palestinian man accused of informing Israel.

Another focus of clashes in the West Bank in recent years is the city of Jenin, where there is a large refugee camp with a great tradition of resistance against Israel. In the confrontations in 2021, a group was born that uses the name Jenin Brigade or Jenin Battalion. It is more of a loosely organized militant organization whose members are mainly young residents of the camp. The difference with the Lion’s Den is that the organization was founded by militants from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, while the Lion’s Den is a far more grassroots movement. The Jenin Brigades established communication and a certain coordination of activities with the Lion’s Den.

What do new organizations have in common?

All the mentioned organizations have in common not only opposition to the Israeli occupation but also opposition to the Palestinian Authority, which is seen as a corrupt instrument of Israeli politics. Among many Palestinians, the formation of the Lion’s Den had a positive response, as it was created outside the structures of the Palestinian Authority, which is widely considered to be highly corrupt and under the influence of Israel. At the same time, it can also be considered an expression of defiance towards the ambitions of Hamas and some other traditional Palestinian organizations.

The Palestinian Authority tried to limit the activities of the Lion’s Den with the help of a by offering communication between it and Israel, or rather by offering its members some forms of cooperation. The Lion’s Den officials called these efforts by the Palestinian Authority an attempt to corrupt the organization and rejected them. This strategy was used by the Palestinian Authority earlier – and more successfully – in connection with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades radical group active during the second intifada (2000-2005). It should be noted, however, that their members were often significantly closer to Fatah than the current Lion’s Den.


The case of the new militant group Lion’s Den is an indication of a possible starting phase of a broader delineation of significant sections of Palestinian society against the Palestinian Authority and efforts to create an alternative leadership of Palestinian society. At the same time, it is no longer an isolated short-term effort but a more systematic rebellion against Israel and Palestinian autonomy, which has a credible grassroots movement from the point of view of ordinary local Palestinians and is making efforts to connect with other similar groups.

The Lion’s Den also has a clear political vision – to unite the Palestinians and create an alternative Palestinian leadership while presenting itself as incorruptible. All of this may represent signs of a transformation of the Palestinian radical and political milieu from the long-term status quo.