The TikTok generation of Palestinian resistance

Analysis: Newly emerged Lion's Den militant group gained notoriety and 'fame' by posting videos of their attacks on social media, and as men in their 20s, they are unfamiliar with potential ferocity of a major anti-terror Israeli operation

Elisha Ben Kimon|
The late-night raid in Nablus on Monday, was part of the concerted efforts of Israeli security services to eliminate terrorists responsible for a slew of attacks in recent months.
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  • The raid targeted the home of a leader of the newly emerged Lion's Den terror group, and killed the militant chief himself as well as four of his associates.
    5 View gallery
    רכב שרוף בשכם
    רכב שרוף בשכם
    Aftermath of an Israeli raid on the Nablus home of Lion's Den leader
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The young militants have grown in power in the eyes of Palestinians through their social media presence, posing a new kind of challenge to the forces in their pursuit.
    The militant group numbers dozens of men, in their 20s for the most part, who are not affiliated with Hamas or the Islamic Jihad terror groups.
    They had previously gone by the name "the Nablus Battalion," acting in a semi-organized fashion and not as a terror squad or militia.
    The militants had first gone unnoticed by Israeli security, while they armed themselves with the help of existing terror cells, carried out attacks and urged others to join them.
    5 View gallery
    פלסטינים חמושים בהלווית תאמר אל-כילאני
    פלסטינים חמושים בהלווית תאמר אל-כילאני
    Armed Palestinian militant in Nablus smoking a cigarette
    (Photo: AP)
    Their operations were considered sloppy and unprofessional by security officials, who observed failed shootings at targets from a distance before escaping back into Nablus.
    But at least on one occasion their attack was fatal, when IDF soldier Ido Ben Baruch was shot and killed by some of its members in a drive-by shooting near the Shavei Shomron settlement in the West Bank.
    Some 20 recent attacks were attributed to the group, taxing security forces and disrupting the lives of settlers in the area.
    The militants gained much of their popularity via the TikTok social media app, where they post clips of their attacks, encouraging young Palestinians all over the West Bank to join in.
    The Lion Den's notoriety spread from the West Bank into Israel and even Lebanon, where one of their members – Ibrahim al Nablusi - was mentioned by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in a recent speech. Al Nablusi was killed by Israeli troops last August during a shootout.
    5 View gallery
    ארגון טרור גוב האריות פלסטינים מחבלים ירי
    ארגון טרור גוב האריות פלסטינים מחבלים ירי
    The Lion's Den
    But despite their growing fame, the small group was severely impacted in recent days, after some of its senior members were eliminated. A core of 10 to 15 young men still remain, and although they refrain from affiliation with an existing terror organization, they are ideological and highly motivated.
    They identify with Palestinian resistance – the armed struggle against Israel - and because of their youth, do not remember and therefore do not fear, the potential ferocity of a major military Israeli operation, such as those carried out in the early 2000s.
    The efforts to combat the group with frequent raids, arrests and altercations, have not succeeded in preventing the militants from carrying out their attacks, but have enraged settlers who took to the streets to protest the loss of security.
    The growing tension has prompted the military to take more actions.
    Every car leaving Nablus is being checked by security forces and as a result, the militants no longer appear to be able to target settlements or settlers driving along the West Bank roads, and forced them to concentrate their efforts closer to the city.
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    חיילי צה"ל בבידוק ליד שכם
    חיילי צה"ל בבידוק ליד שכם
    IDF troops inspect cars at the entrance to Nablus
    (Photo: AP)
    The military operations were made possible thanks to intelligence gathered by the Shin Bet and the IDF's Unit 820 - both able to collect information on an organization that had not existed until recently.
    The intelligence included the names of members of the group as well as their location and movements. The precise location of the leader's apartment in Monday's raid and the knowledge that senior Lion's Den members were to be present there at the time was significant.
    Israel also revoked work permits of some 164 Palestinians, mostly relatives of the militants affiliated with the terror group.
    Now, security officials are keeping a close watch on events on the ground, concerned that a terror attack may be launched in revenge for Monday's operation.
    While the closure on Nablus remains in place, senior commanders are instructing the forces to maintain vigilance and settlement security officials are also on alert.
    5 View gallery
    תאמר אלכילאני ודיע אלחוח גוב האריות שכם
    תאמר אלכילאני ודיע אלחוח גוב האריות שכם
    Slain senior members of the Lion's Den militant group
    Calls for a day of rage and strikes on Palestinian streets have also been causing some concern as troops expect clashes with the local population in upcoming future.
    But, officials say that they estimate the militants are now on the run and will attempt to evade capture rather than launch more attacks.
    They add that in the long-run, Palestinian Authority's security services will benefit from the recent Israeli actions after they had failed to control the group on their own, and had in fact been themselves threatened and intimidated by its members.
    The militants have been seen marching through the narrow streets of the Kasbah, firing into shops and terrorizing local residents - much like a criminal gang. With their departure, the PA would be able to regain control of those streets.





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