Mudar Zahran
Mudar ZahranArutz Sheva

There has been a streak of terror attacks in Judea and Samaria that have claimed the lives of several Israelis including soldiers. On 11 October, the Lions’ Den called for “days of rage” to sweep the 'West Bank', which is a codename for launching terror attacks. Strange enough, the governments-controlled media in the Palestinian Authority, Gaza and Jordan have been promoting this “anger for rage.”

To the outsider, it appears as if the group had surfaced out of the blue. Some journalists jumped on this story trying to analyse and claim expertise with respect to this newly emergent group. See JPOST and Haaretz.

Nevertheless, a closer look at the group suggests otherwise, that it is anything but new. The Lion’s Den is simply a rebranded terrorist group. The rebranding has been done to distance the killings from traditional terror leaders who want to appear to have clean hands..

Let us start with the so-called founder of the Lions Den, Palestinian militant Mohammed Azizi. Azizi was killed during an operation by the IDF in his hometown of Nablus on the 24th of July this year. Only 23 years old, Azizi had already spent five years as a fugitive wanted by the Israeli army for engaging in several terror attacks against Israeli civilians. He was young, did not come from a wealthy family and did not belonging to a large Palestinian Arab tribe. Thus he could not have established any group worth mentioning because such a group requires connections, money and tribal support, none of which he had.

Furthermore, Azizi’s death was celebrated, particularly by the Gaza Hamas-controlled media and websites which paraded his death as a call to relaunch attacks against Israel and to unify all factions including PLO’s militants and those of Hamas. For example, Hamas media called him “a beacon of unity” among all factions. [1]

In addition, looking at Azizi’s affiliations and the people who mourned his death the most, it is clear he was most celebrated by Hamas members in the 'West Bank'. In addition, I have asked several senior officials from the PLO about him, and they all denied he was ever affiliated with their factions. While they may not be telling the truth, one thing is certain, the emergence of this terror group has lessened the pressure on both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in many ways.

First, both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were facing protests for their bad governance, corruption, and abuse of the Palestinian Arabs under their rule in Gaza and the 'West Bank'. [2] [3]

The terror attacks carried out by the so-called Lion’s Den group have confused the Palestinian Arab public who are now most concerned with following the confrontations between Israel and the said group and who also fear that they would look like “traitors” for protesting for their human and economic rights amid what they perceive to be a “war with Israel”.

Neither the PA nor Hamas are claiming ownership of the Lion’s Den in order not be held responsible for the killings. In so doing, they appear moderate. This is the oldest trick in the book for most Arab dictators. They tell the West and/or the Israelis, they must either accept the dictators or welcome the Islamic radicals. Even Jordan’s king has distanced himself from the Lion’s Den. The king’s regime has become most fragile recently and has been facing daily demonstrations and even occasional shootings by Jordanians. With those of Palestinian Arab heritage making the vast majority of Jordan’s population, the king’s media has been trying to defuse those too by focusing on the Lion’s Den as the new saviors who should be supported. An example of this is a story run by Alghad, a Jordanian daily which is, like all media in Jordan, under the direct control of the king’s press office. Alghad described the Lion’s Den as “the new resistance fighters for Palestine” and glorified them as heroes.

The truth of the matter is the Lion’s Den is a small faction made-up of noticeably young leadership with no clear direction or affiliation and no signs of established sources of finance, which makes it impossible for them to be as influential as they claim.

Abbas should be blamed for their crimes because he could crush them very quickly if he wanted to. They only number a few dozen rather than thousands like Hamas. Even more so, the media coverage that Lion’s Den gets from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Jordan could have not happened by chance. Abbas would lock up anyone who would publish any piece praising a different faction. The same goes for Hamas and of course the King of Jordan.

The media glorification that this group is getting is evidence that all three parties are at best enjoying what is happening, because it is for their benefit, and at worst, they are accomplices who should be held accountable for aiding and abetting an emergent terror group.

The world must tell Abbas, Hamas, and Jordan’s king that their support of Lion’s Den is unacceptable. Little do they realize, they are hanging by a thread.


[1] report with his blood charted a path for the unity of the resistance, Muhammad al-Azizi.. Blood blooms in the “Yasmina” neighborhood



Mudar Adnan Zahran is the Secretary General of the Jordan Opposition Coalition.