If you want to see a place around Nablus where people, who aren't affiliated with Palestinian security mechanisms, walk around freely with automatic rifles, all you have to do is go into the Balata refugee camp. It has been raided often by the IDF, just recently in May, when security forces blew up a laboratory that was making explosive devices.
There are several armed groups operating n the refugee camp, including one that associates with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. The Washington Post recently published an article that deals with that group nicknamed "The Cell", providing insight into the people who refer to themselves as Tomorrow's Martyrs.
A local cell commander, who identified as Zufee told the Post that his men are not associated with the Palestinian Authority. which he said was corrupt and weak and acting as a defense shield for Israel. He said the PA members drive around in fancy cars in stark contrast to the standard of living of camp residents.
In its report, the Washington Post said Zufee spent time in the Meggido prison when he was a teenager during the second Intifada. After he was released in 2008, he joined the Palestinian security forces for several years before leaving to begin working on Israeli construction sites. He scrimped and saved and managed to purchase a fully automatic M-16 for $20,000.
After a February IDF raid in Nablus that killed 11 terrorists, Zufee was inspired to establish a terror cell with several friends, one of whom was killed. That further cemented his desire to carry out acts of terror. A 19-year-old sitting next to him nodded in agreement, the report went on to say. He too told the paper that he joined the Balata cell after seeing his friend shot by troops as they hurled stones at them.
The article cited sources in the IDF who claim that they were fully aware of the cell and were keeping a close eye on it. Their objective is to turn the camp into a fort, the sources told the paper.
Last April terrorists opened fire on a military outpost located near the West Bank settlement of Elon Moreh. Two terrorists were killed and one was wounded. He was identified by the Post as 38-year-old Amar, who is widely revered in the refugee camp so much so, that residents offer to pay for his coffee. Like other members in the terror cell, the post says, he is treated like a rock star. Terrorists enjoy their social status and are role models for children, while the unemployment rate for men in Balata nears 90%. and options for social mobility are nonexistent.
.The article claims that some members of Balata cell participated in the fight against the IDF forces during their incursion into the refugee camp in Jenin, last month, as part of a cooperation between cells. the publication showed the terrorists making assembling explosive devices they called "melons," from Chinese-made charges, gunpowder and fertilizers. When they believe they might be raided by the IDF, they either hide their devices or hurl them at forces, like grenades.
While some of the terrorists said they were only doing what they must in order to survive, others claimed that Jewish settlers were a legitimate target and told the post that a recent attack near the settlement of Eli, where four people were killed, was carried out by a group calling themselves the Rapid Response, although they insisted that they do not know the identity of its members.