TikTok bans account of Palestinian armed group behind West Bank shootings

Lion’s Den used video-sharing site to publish footage of attacks, spread ideology; Israel said to request platform remove faction’s user as well

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

Members of Lion's Den are seen in Nablus in an image published by the armed faction on September 3, 2022. (Courtesy; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Members of Lion's Den are seen in Nablus in an image published by the armed faction on September 3, 2022. (Courtesy; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The TikTok video-sharing platform on Saturday banned an account belonging to an armed Palestinian group responsible for numerous shooting attacks against Israeli forces and civilians in the northern West Bank in recent months.

The account, belonging to the group calling itself “Lion’s Den,” was removed for violating the platform’s community guidelines.

According to Hebrew-language media reports, the move by TikTok to ban the account came following requests by Israel.

The group, based in Nablus, was established in recent months by members of various terror groups. Some of its members were apparently previously affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, among others.

Lion’s Den had used its TikTok account to publish videos of its members committing shooting attacks and to spread its ideology.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz earlier this week instructed law enforcement officials to focus efforts on combating incitement on social media, amid heightened tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Lion’s Den, which is believed to consist of several dozen members without any proper hierarchy, continues to have a large following on the Telegram messaging service.

It has claimed responsibility for many shooting attacks in the Nablus area in recent months, including one on Tuesday that killed an Israeli soldier.

Lion’s Den is tied to Ibrahim Nabulsi, a wanted Palestinian gunman who was killed in an Israeli raid in Nablus in August.

Several more members of the group have been killed by Israeli forces since.

Palestinian gunmen attend the funeral for Ibrahim Nabulsi and two others killed in the West Bank city of Nablus, August 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Tensions have risen sharply in the West Bank, with Israeli forces ratcheting up arrest raids and other counterterror efforts in the West Bank since a spate of terror attacks against Israelis in the spring killed 19 people.

In recent months, Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly attacked military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.

On Friday night, Palestinian gunmen affiliated with the Hamas terror group opened fire at the settlement of Beit El, injuring one. One of the gunmen was killed by troops, and the second was arrested several hours later. Another two men suspected of aiding the pair were also detained.

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli operations this year, many of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.

On Saturday, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry reported that two Palestinians were seriously wounded by Israeli gunfire during clashes near the town of Qarawat Bani Hasan.

The Israel Defense Forces said dozens of Palestinians hurled stones at troops in the area, injuring one soldier lightly who did not require hospitalization.

Troops responded with riot dispersal means, and fired live rounds at “main instigators,” the IDF added.

The rising West Bank violence has also spread to Jerusalem, where Palestinians have clashed with Israeli police and civilians.

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