US sanctions Palestinian group involved in West Bank violence

Israeli forces in the West Bank  (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press All rights reserved)
Israeli forces in the West Bank (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press All rights reserved)

The United States has sanctioned a militant Palestinian group that has professed involvement in a series of shootings in the city of Nablus over the last two years.

In a statement, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the department is sanctioning the group known as Lions’ Den, which is headquartered in the Old City section of Nablus. Miller noted that the group had claimed responsibility for a pair of shootings in the fall of 2022, including an October 2022 incident that saw bullets fired at a taxi driver as well as shots directed at a settlement called Har Bracha.

Another shooting the previous month saw Palestinian civilians and Palestinian Authority security forces injured and killed in exchanges of fire with Lions’ Den fighters. The group is also reported to have targeted Israeli forces in an April 2024 attack on a checkpoint in Nablus.

The US has also sanctioned two Israeli settlers — Yinon Levi and David Chai Chasdai — as well as a pair of groups that raised funds for the settlers. Levi and Chasdai have been known to engage in violence against Palestinians living in the West Bank, according to the State Department. They were referred to in an April press release by the US Department of the Treasury as “violent extremists”.

“The United States condemns any and all acts of violence committed in the West Bank, whoever the perpetrators, and we will use the tools at our disposal to expose and hold accountable those who threaten peace and stability there,” Miller said.

These sanctions are issued under an executive order signed by President Biden in April, which gives the government authority to sanction anyone deemed to be “responsible for, or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, actions — including directing, enacting, implementing, enforcing, or failing to enforce policies — that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the West Bank”.