The New York Times: The popularity of the "Lions' Den" in Nablus is growing, and the former fighters are returning to their weapons The New York Times: The popularity of the "Lions' Den" in Nablus is growing, and the former fighters are returning to their weapons

The New York Times: The popularity of the "Lions' Den" in Nablus is growing, and the former fighters are returning to their weapons

The New York Times: The popularity of the "Lions' Den" in Nablus is growing, and the former fighters are returning to their weapons  The New York Times published a report prepared by Patrick Kingsley and Heba Yazbek, in which they said that new armed groups have appeared in the West Bank.  The authors said that Abu Abdullah, who was a leader in the second Palestinian uprising two decades ago, hid his gun with the decline in the pace of resistance, and became a civil servant in the National Authority in Nablus. When Israeli forces raided the city last month, Abu Abdullah, 42, lent his gun to a group of Palestinian gunmen 20 years his junior, who engaged in a four-hour battle with Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian city. All of this has made him part of the conflict for the first time in several years, and he is one of several ex-combatants who returned to the scene after that day's battle. "We have a duty that we must do," Abu Abdullah said.  In the past years, the Palestinian Authority worked with Israel to limit the activities of armed groups, and believed that by building trust with Israeli leaders, it could persuade them to support the birth of a Palestinian state. However, the authority's control in cities such as Nablus is declining amid a decline in its popularity, with the evaporation of the state's dream. A new generation of Palestinians emerged in the past year, as they carried out attacks against Israelis and used weapons at a higher rate during the attacks carried out by the Israeli army on their cities.  Among the most important of the new groups is a movement called “The Lions’ Den” , which was the target of an Israeli operation last month, and its popularity is growing despite the decline in the number of fighters in its ranks due to Israel’s targeting of them for killing and arrest. The ex-combatants who have stopped fighting are mobilized by the younger generation. The developments reflect the growing support for military action and armed resistance against the 56-year-old occupation, as well as the growing frustration with the settlers' empowerment and attacks in the West Bank, and what is seen as the impotent and corrupt national authority.  In interviews inside the Old City of Nablus, three of the young fighters said they launched a massive armed insurrection 18 years after the end of the previous insurgency.  This feeling explains, in part, the reason for the escalation of violence in the West Bank in 2023, and what polls show among Palestinians and Israelis about the imminent outbreak of a new intifada. Armed actions among the Palestinians began in the spring of last year, under the previous Israeli government, but the new government that took power increased its response to the attacks carried out by the Palestinians.  Over the weekend, an Israeli minister called for the “erasing” of the Palestinian town of Huwwara.  The newspaper says that the "Lions' Den" is responsible for most of the increase in Palestinian resistance. In 2022, the group carried out 60 shooting operations, one of which was fatal, against Israeli soldiers and civilians inside and outside the city, a significant increase over previous years. These attacks led to a strong Israeli response. More than 60 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of this year in the West Bank, a bloody start that differs from previous years, according to Palestinian officials.  Most of the martyrs were killed in confrontations between the occupation forces and the Palestinian gunmen, as the Israeli forces raided the cities to arrest the gunmen whom they accuse of plotting to kill Israeli soldiers and civilians.  The question now is about a new intifada by the Palestinians. The first Intifada began in the 1980s and was marked by demonstrations. The second began at the beginning of the current century with demonstrations, but turned into armed action and the Israeli army attacks that left 1,000 Israelis dead and 3,000 Palestinians dead.  Most of central Nablus is in ruins. Two decades later, there are signs in the city of support for the armed struggle, specifically the Lions' Den. Pictures of Al-Areen fighters were hung in the squares of Nablus, and songs praising their heroism were sung from cafes, and their pictures were seen on storefronts, car windows, and mobile phone screens. The support reflects many citizens' view of the militants as doing something that the PA is not doing: fighting Israel.  Amid al-Masri, a local Fatah official in Nablus, said the new generation of Palestinians had grown up “without a political horizon.” He added that “Israel’s crimes, settlement expansion, unemployment all pushed them to do something different, to take matters into their own hands.” In a survey conducted in December, it was found that half of the population in the West Bank and Gaza support a new intifada, and every 7 out of 10 people support the Lions' Den.  A gunman from the den believes that the uprising is coming. "We are an uprising," said the 24-year-old. Another young man, 25, commented: “An uprising without the national authority.” The second position reflects the current situation, and how the violence that is taking place does not reach the level of an uprising and may subside.  The second intifada coordinated the Palestinian movements that have a presence in the West Bank, including Fatah, to which Abu Abdullah belongs. The Fatah leadership did not call for a new intifada, and senior Palestinian officials rejected a Fatah member's call for the Palestinian police to confront Israeli soldiers. “For there to be a third intifada, there must be a political decision, which has not yet been taken,” Masri said, adding that “the Central Committee of Fatah is the one that takes this decision.”  Palestinian officials in the West Bank say they are reluctant to change policy because the outbreak of violence is doing them more harm than good. However, it was indecision that prompted the younger generation to form groups such as the Lions' Den. Three fighters said that the lions' den was established in February 2022, although the Israeli army only discovered it in July, according to the Israeli army spokesman.  Most of the group's members came from Fatah, who felt frustrated with its leadership, according to Palestinian and Israeli fighters and officials. This does not mean that there are no fighters from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israeli officials say that Hamas and Islamic Jihad funded the Lions' Den, to sow discord within the PA and divide Fatah, but far from being seen.  Israeli officials say that Al-Areen attacked Israeli soldiers and civilians, and planned an operation in Tel Aviv before it was foiled. Al-Areen admitted that he killed an Israeli soldier in October, among several operations. The fighters describe the group as open and consisting of individual groups and not affiliated with a single leadership. A number of its members belong to other organizations, and a minority of them belong only to the den.  The popularity of the new organization stems from promotion, propaganda, and the use of communication platforms such as TikTok, and broadcasting the testimonies of fighters in a way that increased the number of its fans on the platforms, which inspired the emergence of similar groups in other cities. Al-Areen called for strikes and protests in the West Bank. And they publish group pictures of them carrying guns, and in fact many of them do not work, and usually some wait for the martyrdom of an armed man in order to inherit his gun or borrow it from people like Abu Abdullah.  The number of fighters decreased from 60 at its peak during the month of September to 30 fighters, according to various estimates. A number of its members were killed by Israeli bullets, while others surrendered “about 30 fighters” to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for promises of protection from Israeli retaliation, and their imprisonment for several months.  The new group created a dilemma for the authority, which hesitated to intervene, given the popularity of the fighters and the affiliation of some of them to the Fatah movement, which prompted Israel to act, according to what the newspaper says. The Israeli forces entered Nablus in a bold manner, the latest of which was the operation in which 11 Palestinians were killed at the end of February. The operation boosted the popularity of the Lions' Den despite the decline in the number of its fighters, in contrast to the decline in the popularity of the Palestinian Authority, whose security forces stood by and watched during the recent Israeli operation.

The New York Times published a report prepared by Patrick Kingsley and Heba Yazbek, in which they said that new armed groups have appeared in the West Bank.

The authors said that Abu Abdullah, who was a leader in the second Palestinian uprising two decades ago, hid his gun with the decline in the pace of resistance, and became a civil servant in the National Authority in Nablus. When Israeli forces raided the city last month, Abu Abdullah, 42, lent his gun to a group of Palestinian gunmen 20 years his junior, who engaged in a four-hour battle with Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian city. All of this has made him part of the conflict for the first time in several years, and he is one of several ex-combatants who returned to the scene after that day's battle. "We have a duty that we must do," Abu Abdullah said.

In the past years, the Palestinian Authority worked with Israel to limit the activities of armed groups, and believed that by building trust with Israeli leaders, it could persuade them to support the birth of a Palestinian state. However, the authority's control in cities such as Nablus is declining amid a decline in its popularity, with the evaporation of the state's dream. A new generation of Palestinians emerged in the past year, as they carried out attacks against Israelis and used weapons at a higher rate during the attacks carried out by the Israeli army on their cities.

Among the most important of the new groups is a movement called “The Lions’ Den” , which was the target of an Israeli operation last month, and its popularity is growing despite the decline in the number of fighters in its ranks due to Israel’s targeting of them for killing and arrest. The ex-combatants who have stopped fighting are mobilized by the younger generation. The developments reflect the growing support for military action and armed resistance against the 56-year-old occupation, as well as the growing frustration with the settlers' empowerment and attacks in the West Bank, and what is seen as the impotent and corrupt national authority.

In interviews inside the Old City of Nablus, three of the young fighters said they launched a massive armed insurrection 18 years after the end of the previous insurgency.

This feeling explains, in part, the reason for the escalation of violence in the West Bank in 2023, and what polls show among Palestinians and Israelis about the imminent outbreak of a new intifada. Armed actions among the Palestinians began in the spring of last year, under the previous Israeli government, but the new government that took power increased its response to the attacks carried out by the Palestinians.

Over the weekend, an Israeli minister called for the “erasing” of the Palestinian town of Huwwara.

The newspaper says that the "Lions' Den" is responsible for most of the increase in Palestinian resistance. In 2022, the group carried out 60 shooting operations, one of which was fatal, against Israeli soldiers and civilians inside and outside the city, a significant increase over previous years. These attacks led to a strong Israeli response. More than 60 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of this year in the West Bank, a bloody start that differs from previous years, according to Palestinian officials.

Most of the martyrs were killed in confrontations between the occupation forces and the Palestinian gunmen, as the Israeli forces raided the cities to arrest the gunmen whom they accuse of plotting to kill Israeli soldiers and civilians.

The question now is about a new intifada by the Palestinians. The first Intifada began in the 1980s and was marked by demonstrations. The second began at the beginning of the current century with demonstrations, but turned into armed action and the Israeli army attacks that left 1,000 Israelis dead and 3,000 Palestinians dead.

Most of central Nablus is in ruins. Two decades later, there are signs in the city of support for the armed struggle, specifically the Lions' Den. Pictures of Al-Areen fighters were hung in the squares of Nablus, and songs praising their heroism were sung from cafes, and their pictures were seen on storefronts, car windows, and mobile phone screens. The support reflects many citizens' view of the militants as doing something that the PA is not doing: fighting Israel.

Amid al-Masri, a local Fatah official in Nablus, said the new generation of Palestinians had grown up “without a political horizon.” He added that “Israel’s crimes, settlement expansion, unemployment all pushed them to do something different, to take matters into their own hands.” In a survey conducted in December, it was found that half of the population in the West Bank and Gaza support a new intifada, and every 7 out of 10 people support the Lions' Den.

A gunman from the den believes that the uprising is coming. "We are an uprising," said the 24-year-old. Another young man, 25, commented: “An uprising without the national authority.” The second position reflects the current situation, and how the violence that is taking place does not reach the level of an uprising and may subside.

The second intifada coordinated the Palestinian movements that have a presence in the West Bank, including Fatah, to which Abu Abdullah belongs. The Fatah leadership did not call for a new intifada, and senior Palestinian officials rejected a Fatah member's call for the Palestinian police to confront Israeli soldiers. “For there to be a third intifada, there must be a political decision, which has not yet been taken,” Masri said, adding that “the Central Committee of Fatah is the one that takes this decision.”

Palestinian officials in the West Bank say they are reluctant to change policy because the outbreak of violence is doing them more harm than good. However, it was indecision that prompted the younger generation to form groups such as the Lions' Den. Three fighters said that the lions' den was established in February 2022, although the Israeli army only discovered it in July, according to the Israeli army spokesman.

Most of the group's members came from Fatah, who felt frustrated with its leadership, according to Palestinian and Israeli fighters and officials. This does not mean that there are no fighters from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israeli officials say that Hamas and Islamic Jihad funded the Lions' Den, to sow discord within the PA and divide Fatah, but far from being seen.

Israeli officials say that Al-Areen attacked Israeli soldiers and civilians, and planned an operation in Tel Aviv before it was foiled. Al-Areen admitted that he killed an Israeli soldier in October, among several operations. The fighters describe the group as open and consisting of individual groups and not affiliated with a single leadership. A number of its members belong to other organizations, and a minority of them belong only to the den.

The popularity of the new organization stems from promotion, propaganda, and the use of communication platforms such as TikTok, and broadcasting the testimonies of fighters in a way that increased the number of its fans on the platforms, which inspired the emergence of similar groups in other cities. Al-Areen called for strikes and protests in the West Bank. And they publish group pictures of them carrying guns, and in fact many of them do not work, and usually some wait for the martyrdom of an armed man in order to inherit his gun or borrow it from people like Abu Abdullah.

The number of fighters decreased from 60 at its peak during the month of September to 30 fighters, according to various estimates. A number of its members were killed by Israeli bullets, while others surrendered “about 30 fighters” to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for promises of protection from Israeli retaliation, and their imprisonment for several months.

The new group created a dilemma for the authority, which hesitated to intervene, given the popularity of the fighters and the affiliation of some of them to the Fatah movement, which prompted Israel to act, according to what the newspaper says. The Israeli forces entered Nablus in a bold manner, the latest of which was the operation in which 11 Palestinians were killed at the end of February. The operation boosted the popularity of the Lions' Den despite the decline in the number of its fighters, in contrast to the decline in the popularity of the Palestinian Authority, whose security forces stood by and watched during the recent Israeli operation.

The Emir of Qatar calls for the support of Turkey and Syria to overcome the effects of the earthquake disaster

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, called on everyone to support Turkey's efforts to overcome the effects of the earthquakes that struck the south of the country in February. Al-Thani said, "Our meeting is taking place while our brothers in Turkey and Syria are still suffering from the effects of the earthquake disaster that affected them and affected millions."

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on Sunday called on everyone to support Turkey's efforts to overcome the effects of the earthquake disaster that struck the south of the country on February 6, 2023.

This came in the opening speech of the "Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries", which kicked off in Doha on Sunday and will continue until March 9 under the slogan "From Potential to Prosperity".

The Emir of Qatar said: "Our meeting is taking place while our brothers in Turkey and Syria are still suffering from the effects of the massive earthquake that hit them and affected millions."


Al-Thani added, "I affirm, in the name of all of you, our solidarity with our brothers in Turkey and Syria (...) and I call on everyone to support Turkey's efforts to overcome the effects of this disaster and extend a helping hand to the brotherly Syrian people."

He continued, "There is no way through which we can build a new world that is safer, more just and free for today and tomorrow, except through the path of international human solidarity."

The conference is witnessing the participation of 6,000 personalities, including heads of state and government, ministers, diplomats, senior officials, businessmen, decision-makers, and representatives of regional and global organizations, institutions and companies.

The conference aims to discuss ways to assist the least developed countries around the world, and mobilize investments to advance their economies, in projects identified by those countries, which are considered the most urgent.

On February 6, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and northern Syria, followed hours later by another with a magnitude of 7.6 and hundreds of violent aftershocks, which left huge losses of lives and property in both countries.
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