This article is meant as a breakdown of a lengthy statement from the Palestinian Militant group, the Lions’ Den. It is meant to provide a look into their method of thinking, and to understand it. It is not meant to appear leaning one way or the other, but merely offer an expanded view of a very complex conflict.
On Tuesday the Lions’ Den released two brief statements. One announcing three of their fighters were killed in a skirmish with the IDF, and another stating they had a “very important statement” that they would be releasing Friday (a brief going over the two statements may be read here). Yesterday, that statement released on the Lions’ Den telegram. While much of it was the normal vows of continued resistance and calls for unity against Israel, or as they say, “the enemy”, it also gives us a very good look into their strategy. The statement, which nears 1000 words, is separated into three specific messages. The first being to “our people in Nablus” as well as just Palestinians in general. The second message is to Israel, once again referred to as “the enemy”. The third is a message to both the Lions’ Den fighters as well as those in other Palestinian militant groups, which outlines the strategy of the Lions’ Den going forward.
Why the Lions’ Den Matters
The Lions’ Den has only been around for a year, and has already become one of the primary forces of Palestinian militancy against Israel. The group is largely based in Nablus, in the old city. Since their creation they have experienced a sharp rise in popularity. Within Nablus/the West Bank, they have held a number of rallies, attended funeral processions for militants killed, and more which have had thousands of attendees. They are distinctly well equipped, and after their creation have carried out a large number of attacks against Israeli forces. While they are small, they appear to be reasonably well organized, though not a ton is known of their leadership structure.
Originally the group operated a tik-tok and a telegram where they would post footage of their operations, as well as statements. However, eventually their tik-tok was suspended, and only their telegram remained, though the combat footage has ceased. Presently, their telegram sits at 249,000 followers. For the past several months the Lions’ Den has operated rather silently, carrying out attacks without announcement. The reason why, is outlined in their statement below.
The statement below is in three sections, with a breakdown following each section. The beginning of each section of the statement has been bolded in black, and breakdowns bolded in red for ease of reading.
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
“Return to them, for we will surely come to them with forces they cannot resist, and we will surely drive them out from there, humiliated and diminished.”
This is the truth of Allah Almighty.
This is a brief statement.
A year has passed since the martyrdom of the visionary founder, the martyr leader Mohammed Al-Azizi, Abu Saleh, and his comrade in arms, the leader Aboud Soboh, and the heroic martyr, the Lion of the Den, who joined them after being wounded on that blessed night, Mohammed Herzallah, Abu Hamdi. May Allah have mercy on all of them. A year has passed, O our leaders, a year filled with glory and pride, a year filled with martyrs and sacrifices. The soldiers of the Den have only grown stronger and more steadfast since that night, embracing the belief that the path you chose is the right, swiftest, and safest path to liberation.
On this day, it is the duty of the Den’s leaders and soldiers to address our people with three messages:
The first message is to the sons of our people in Nablus, the Mountain of Fire, and to all the sons of our people in all cities, camps, villages, the occupied territories, and the diaspora, wherever they may be: We say to you, O crown of our heads and our heartbeat, our people who have not tasted comfort for decades, let us unite behind our resistance regardless of affiliations or labels. Let us unite against the large-scale conspiracies being plotted against our cause, which are greater in magnitude than any plots previously devised against us.
The world has conspired against our people, turning a blind eye to their right to live on their land and to the return of their displaced refugees, displaced for no reason overnight and the only people in the world whose land remains occupied.
This world, which blesses this occupation both secretly and openly, is the same world that laments for Ukraine’s rights and fights any party supporting any Palestinian defending themselves, their land, and their people.
Our great people, in the face of the magnitude of our cause, its religious and national significance, the sacrifices of our people over a hundred years, the amount of blood shed on this land and beyond it defending this cause, the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of prisoners and their families and their sacrifices, in the face of the world’s silence, sterility, and its short reach and words to be fair to our people, even if only with a word, in the face of all this we say:
It is our right and duty to unite behind the resistance, unify our word, and set aside narrow political and factional disputes. The cause is greater than anything else; it is everything. Palestine is greater than all, and here, the sons of the Den say to our people: We have vowed to Allah and to you to be the core of comprehensive resistance, not affiliated with any party, embodying all the shades of the Palestinian spectrum, seeking nothing but (Allah and the homeland) only, and anything beyond that, the Den does not believe in at all.
The Message to the People
While the first message is mostly a message to the Palestinian people, speaking of the sacrifices they have made, it is also directed towards the global community. They compare the Palestinian resistance to that of Ukraine, pointing out that the nations who back Ukraine are the same who back Israel over Palestine.
Many of the Palestinian militant groups have called for unified resistance, sometimes with small successes sometimes not. Within the first message is once again a call for unity across the board. They also outline their political leanings, or rather, lack thereof. They state they are putting the cause of Palestine above that of politics, and call for others to do the same. While some groups espouse similar views, there are a number of Palestinian groups that have political ideologies, some militant some not.
While of course the Palestinian Authority (PA) is the most well-known, being the internationally-recognized representative of Palestine, they are not the only one. A number of Palestinian groups carry socialist, communist (such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PFLP) or democratic ideologies, at the core of their operation.
The Palestinian Authority seeks political solutions with Israel, and maintains mixed amounts of support amongst the Palestinian populace.
The PA is largely restricted to the West Bank, meanwhile Hamas operates as the primary political entity in Gaza.
The second message is to the enemy:
We say to you, the sons of the Den and the Den’s soldiers will cross like rays of the sun that you will not be able to stop. You will not know where, how, or when the blows will strike. The Den has concealed everything from you, its leaders, soldiers, and tools. Unlike your ancient strategy, you now sleep without knowing from where and when the strike will come, and that in itself is our success and your failure. For more than four months, operations have been carried out against your soldiers, settlers, and military checkpoints without any announcement. Yet, you are well aware, and hide from your people, that the resistance in the West Bank is preparing and continuously evolving, ready to strike you with surprise after surprise. We promise you more strikes and surprises.
And surprises await you, just as you were surprised on Tel Street in Nablus, and surprised in Jenin Camp, and surprised in Nour Shams camp, and surprised in the “Eli” operation and the Gerizim [Al-Tur] operation carried out by the great martyrs Al-Kharraz, Salameh, and Al-Arida. You know that what is hidden is greater. And now you do not know what comes next, but we tell you that the resistance will cross, and the soldiers of the fortress will cross, just as the sun’s rays infiltrate from every unexpected place.
The Message to “The Enemy”
The Second message is directed towards Israel. While Israel is no stranger to threats, the message from the Lions’ Den carries a few notable accusations.
Firstly, the Lions’ Den accuses Israel directly of misinforming the populace as to the capabilities of Palestinian militant groups within the West Bank. Secondly, while Israel is world-renowned for its intelligence capabilities, they directly accuse Israel of losing the intelligence battle between them and the Lions’ Den, claiming Israel has failed to assess not only the leadership structure of the Lions’ Den, but also their equipment capabilities, and when/where they will be carrying out operations. They claim to have been launching several months of attacks against Israeli “soldiers, settlers, and military checkpoints”, which neither they nor Israel has announced (importantly, this is apart of the strategy the Lions’ Den is adopting which will be gone over in the next section).
As stated, Israel has extensive intelligence capabilities, so to suggest they have failed in this aspect is significant and if at all true, would show a high level of operability from the Lions’ Den.
The third message is to the fighters of the Lions’ Den and other armed factions:
In a time of excessive words, statements, and illusory channels, it is our right to remain silent altogether, with the conversation limited to the battlefield and the rifles speaking there. We will confront them there, in the only language that the enemy understands: the language of blood and warfare. We have chosen this silence, this terrifying silence, as it is more worthy, stronger, and more effective than thousands of words.
The saying is that of the guns, the saying is that of the guns, the saying is that of the guns – no statements, as much as possible, and no armed shows at all.
To the honorable Al-Azizi family, noble people, sons of noble people, may Allah honor and pride you as much as Abu Saleh protected every wanted resistance fighters and as much as you embraced the resistance before his martyrdom and after it. You have presented martyrs, prisoners, and a wanted resistance fighter; you have done enough and have been true to your promise and covenant, and your reward is with Allah.
Finally, we say delusional and then delusional, and then delusional is he who believes that the Den will end or that they know anything about the Den.
We will see who will besiege whom.
Your brothers, the Lions’ Den Groups.
The Message to the Den
The third and final message is one written to both the fighters of the Lions’ Den, but also those in other Palestinian militant groups. This message, though short, outlines the Lions’ Den strategy going forward. Notably, it has already been in practice for the past several months, though it seems they seek to intensify their strategy.
— Media Blockade (@mediablockade) May 9, 2023
As previously stated, the Lions’ Den rose to online popularity through consistently posting footage of combat operations. The past few months, however, have been distinctly silent, with the Lions’ Den rarely making statements, only when they deem it necessary, and no longer posting combat footage. The point, which they outline in this statement, is to provide Israel with both a “terrifying silence, as it is more worthy, stronger, and more effective than thousands of words”, and also an informational deficit. Regular statements and footage provide a better look into the groups combat abilities, operational areas, and more which the Lions’ Den now seeks to deprive Israel of.
One of the things the Lions’ Den had also become famous for was their large, armed showings. Lots of footage and pictures exist showing lines of Lions’ Den fighters, fully equipped, in the broad daylight. While showings such as this are certainly a statement in of themselves, the Lions’ Den has stated they will be doing “no armed shows at all”.
These two primary pieces of their strategy going forward differ significantly from the initial methods of operation the Lions’ Den used. What exactly the Lions’ Den has planned is unknown, but the closing line of “We will see who will besiege whom” implies they plan to carry out further attacks.
Only time will tell if the many claims and accusations made by the Lions’ Den are true or not, but this statement gives us a good look at what the Lions’ Den wants to become, and how it is different from what they once were. Their emergence, continued activity, and tactics shows a shift in what Palestinian militancy may look like in the near future, particularly as tensions soar ever higher between Israel and groups like the Lions’ Den.