US sanctions armed West Bank Palestinian group ‘Lions’ Den’

The Biden administration issued sanctions Thursday against a Palestinian militant group in the West Bank for acts of violence against Israelis and deaths of Palestinian civilians.

The sanctions target the group Lions’ Den, a Palestinian militant group centered in the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank.

The State Department said the group is being sanctioned for planning or carrying out actions that threaten the peace, security or stability of the West Bank and acts of violence against civilians.

Lions’ Den, or Areen al-Usud in Arabic, originated in the summer of 2022, and the State Department cited the group’s claims of responsibility for drive-by shootings in the Nablus area, shooting at Israeli vehicles and attacks against Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“In September 2022, Lions’ Den fighters injured and killed Palestinian civilians during clashes between Palestinian fighters and Palestinian Authority Security Forces in Nablus,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

The State Department also cited Palestinian media reporting that Lions’ Den fighters in April 2024 targeted Israeli forces with small arms at an Israeli checkpoint in Nablus, but The Times of Israel reported that such reports were not confirmed and the group didn’t claim responsibility for such an attack.

The U.S. sanctions against the Lions’ Den follow the Biden administration sanctions against Israeli citizens living in the West Bank accused of violence against Palestinians, part of efforts to address a massive crisis in the disputed territories that is overshadowed by the war in Gaza.

The United Nations has documented that more than 500 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have been killed in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, since Oct. 7.

The U.N. said that of 508 Palestinians killed, 124 were children. More than 5,000 Palestinians, including 800 children, were injured, with more than a third injured by live ammunition.

During the same period, 12 Israelis — seven Israeli soldiers and five settlers — were killed by Palestinians and at least 105 Israelis, including 70 soldiers, were injured in the West Bank. In addition, the U.N. noted, attacks by Palestinians from the West Bank resulted in the killing of eight Israelis and four Palestinian perpetrators in Israel.

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