TEL AVIV, Israel (HPD) — A Palestinian armed group accused Israel on Sunday of killing one of its most prominent members in a targeted attack on a West Bank town, promising a tough response.
Tamer al-Kilani was killed when a motorcycle bomb exploded in his path, according to the Lions’ Den, a Palestinian youth group formed out of frustration and disenchantment with Palestinian leaders and their close ties to Israel.
The Israeli army declined to comment. Troops have carried out nightly raids in the occupied West Bank since the spring, in what they describe as an attempt to dismantle militant networks and thwart attacks. The incursions have heightened tension in the area and triggered a series of retaliatory Palestinian shooting attacks.
Al-Kilani was linked to a deadly shooting last week that killed an Israeli soldier and other attacks in the northern West Bank, an Israeli military official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details with the media.
Two videos provided by Lions’ Den showed a person on a motorcycle parking and leaving the scene. The second video showed a man, apparently Al-Kilani, walking past the motorcycle and then what appeared to be an explosion.
The killing took place in Nablus, a city in the northern West Bank where the Palestinian Authority has less control, such as the militant stronghold of Jenin. Israel accuses the Palestinians, with whom it coordinates to persecute militiamen, of not being willing to control the anarchy in the area. The Palestinian Authority, created under interim peace agreements in the 1990s, administers parts of the West Bank semi-autonomously.
Many Palestinians oppose such coordination, seeing it as a sign of the PA’s weakness and a betrayal of the Palestinian people. Widespread disenchantment with the PA, widely perceived as corrupt and undemocratic, has young Palestinians turning to various militia groups for weapons.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has said that the Lions’ Den has no more than 30 members and promised that its days are numbered.
But the attacks with firearms in the area have been increasing and in recent weeks several deaths have been claimed.
Military raids in the West Bank began in the spring after a series of Palestinian attacks on Israelis left 19 dead, and new attacks have increased the death toll.
More than 120 Palestinians have been killed this year in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, making this the deadliest year since 2015. The Israeli military says the majority of Palestinians killed during raids have been militants. . But young people who were throwing stones to protest the incursions and others not involved in the confrontations have also died.
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War. The Palestinians claim those territories for a future state.