The World Today for April 12, 2023


New Kids on the Block


For years, Fatah and Hamas have vied for control of Palestine.

The largest faction in the late Yasser Arafat’s renowned Palestinian Liberation Organization, Fatah controls the occupied territories of the West Bank, where Palestinian officials uneasily cooperate with their Israeli counterparts in attempting to govern a powder keg. An offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that now receives support from Iran, Hamas rules the Gaza Strip.

Now a third organization has emerged to rally the Palestinian cause, however.

As Israeli newspaper Haaretz explained, the Lions’ Den militants emerged in Nablus, a Fatah stronghold in the West Bank, after Israeli troops staged a raid in late February that resulted in 11 dead and more than 100 wounded Palestinians. A video circulated of Palestinian security officers failing to stop and help people while the raid was occurring. At the instigation of the Lions’ Den militants, people took to the streets to protest.

A few days later, in a sign of how the cycle of violence in the region is seemingly unstoppable, and escalating, a Palestinian shot two Israeli settlers in the West Bank town of Huwara, noted Foreign Policy magazine, adding that Fatah has been unable to stop splinter groups from forming throughout Palestine.

Meanwhile, as the Brookings Institution wrote, the West Bank has once again reached a boiling point: “It is perhaps too soon to talk of a third intifada. But the situation has seriously deteriorated recently. A period of increased terror attacks began in March 2022 and continued ever since. The tension comes at a time of particular weakness for the Abbas regime … (which) seems to be less intent on a dialogue with (…) citizens, who haven’t voted in a general election since 2006. The battle for Abbas’ succession has, in fact, already begun.”

Into this breach comes a new group of Palestinian fighters called the Battalion of Martyr Omar Abu Laila – a reference to a Palestinian who stabbed and killed an Israeli soldier and a civilian – recently emerged in Salfit, a city in the northern West Bank, added the Jerusalem Post.

“I’d hate to make my parents cry,” Yousef Hosni Hammour, 28, who recently joined a new militia in Jaba near Jerusalem, told the Associated Press, as he held a rifle with photos of friends on its clip. “But I’m ready to die a martyr.”

The Lions’ Den, meanwhile, has become a voice for those Palestinians who think Fatah and Hamas are either too corrupt, too incompetent, or deeply misguided to realize the dream of independence. Lions’ Den leaders recently announced a new policy of confronting Israeli forces in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

“The hour of confrontation has approached and the drums of war have begun to sound in every inch of our blessed land,” the group said in a statement to Middle East Monitor. “O people of pride and dignity, our free prisoners, we welcome all battles that restore our dignity and pride, and we swear that the earth is boiling like our hearts.”

They don’t seem like they are interested in talking.

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