Nablus governor offers terror group protection in exchange for stopping ‘useless’ attacks

The recently-established Lions’ Den terror cell is responsible for much of the rise in serious violence against Jewish soldiers and civilians in the area.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The governor of Nablus (Shechem) has told a new terror group in his city that if it stood down from its “useless” attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians, they will be protected by the Palestinian Authority (PA), The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

Ibrahim Ramadan told a Palestinian radio station Wednesday that he had met several times with members of the Lions’ Den, a group of gunmen who come from a range of Palestinian terror organizations, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Fatah itself, the leading faction of the PA.

If the young men would stop their “useless attacks” and break up their terror cell, PA security forces would protect them from the IDF, he said, and try to persuade Israel to stop pursuing them.

PA officials are reportedly frustrated with the new terror cell because it threatens their control of the city.

A senior Palestinian official also told the Post that the PA has warned relatives of the gunmen that it did not want their actions to “give Israel an excuse to launch a large-scale military operation in Nablus, where many people will be killed or injured.”

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Other reported blandishments offered last week to the members included paying them for their weapons and incorporating them into the PA’s security services.

The group, which the IDF asserts is only loosely organized and has no headquarters, was established early this year. It reportedly uses social media to great effect in inciting the local Arab street and gaining recruits.

They have claimed responsibility for many of the firefights with IDF forces who frequently hunt for terrorists around and in the city as part of its months-long counter-terror, Operation Break the Wave. They are also behind many recent shooting attacks on Israeli civilians on the roads in the area.

The IDF has eliminated several of the Lions’ Den in recent months. On Wednesday, the soldiers arrested a senior member, Salman Imran, after they surrounded his home and he fired on the troops. Other Palestinians shot on the soldiers to try to protect Imran, and one was killed during the exchange of fire. Imran eventually turned himself in, even though during the siege he recorded himself saying that he “longs to be a shahid [martyr].”

The security authorities believe that Imran was responsible for a shooting attack on an Israeli bus and taxi earlier this week, as well as other attacks. They said that his arrest would be “very helpful” in tracking down other members of the Lions’ Den.

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According one Israeli military official, the group is not only focused on fighting the ‘Zionist enemy.’

“They are criminals in every respect,” said the official. “They shoot whoever they want even within the Palestinian population. They break into, steal and rob banks, and among other things carry out shooting attacks.”

In an unusual statement in his radio interview, Ramadan also slammed Palestinian mothers who encourage their sons to become suicide bombers, calling those who have done so “abnormal.”

“These are not mothers. No mother sends her son to his death,” he added.

Several Palestinian groups reacted angrily to his words, including the Lions’ Den, which called them an “insult” to mothers of Palestinian “martyrs” and demanded Ramadan’s resignation.