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After Israeli raid, at least 4 Lion’s Den members turn themselves into PA custody

Prominent operative wounded in Israeli operation against terror group leader surrenders to Palestinian security services for protection

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

A gunman wearing a Lion's Den headband attends the funeral of Tamer al-Kilani, a top fighter in the group, who the group said was killed by an explosive device planted in a motorcycle, during his funeral in the West Bank city of Nablus, October 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A gunman wearing a Lion's Den headband attends the funeral of Tamer al-Kilani, a top fighter in the group, who the group said was killed by an explosive device planted in a motorcycle, during his funeral in the West Bank city of Nablus, October 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

At least four members of a Nablus-based loosely organized terror group known as Lion’s Den turned themselves in to the Palestinian Authority security services late Wednesday.

Local Palestinian media reports said that among the four operatives who surrendered to the PA was Mahmoud al-Bana, a prominent member who was wounded in an Israeli raid against the terror group early Tuesday.

During the Tuesday raid, Israeli troops killed the apparent leader of the group and four other gunmen, and destroyed a bomb factory. On Wednesday, another three members were arrested by Israeli troops. Earlier this week, another prominent member was killed in an explosion attributed to Israel.

Lion’s Den has claimed near-nightly attacks on troops and Israeli civilians in the Nablus area in recent months.

In response to the surrender of al-Bana and at least three more members, Lion’s Den issued a statement saying it was “their choice.”

“The Lion’s Den group has not asked any official or security body, no matter how respectable, to hand over our fighters [to them], and whoever surrenders himself, this is their decision and choice,” the statement read.

Al-Bana said in a Facebook post that he surrendered to the PA with another operative in order to protect his life.

According to Hebrew-language media reports, in recent days negotiations were held between Lion’s Den members and the PA security forces, under which the operatives would turn themselves in and be protected from Israel.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops operated extensively throughout the West Bank in the predawn hours of Thursday morning, arresting 11 wanted men, including two Lion’s Den members, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The IDF launched major arrest operations after a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 19 people earlier this year. Another Israeli woman was killed in a suspected attack last month, and another four soldiers have been killed in the West Bank in attacks and during the arrest operations.

In recent months, Palestinian gunmen — mostly members of Lion’s Den — have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.

The anti-terror offensive launched earlier this year has netted more than 2,000 arrests in near-nightly raids in Palestinian cities, towns, and villages. It has also left more than 120 Palestinians dead, many of them — but not all — in the act of carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.

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