US imposes sanctions on Palestinian group Lions’ Den over West Bank violence

By Thomson Reuters Jun 6, 2024 | 11:42 AM

By Simon Lewis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Palestinian militant group Lions’ Den, the State Department said, in the latest move aimed at those Washington says threaten peace and stability in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The group is the first Palestinian target of sanctions under an executive order on West Bank violence issued by President Joe Biden in February, which had previously been used to impose financial restrictions on Jewish settlers involved in attacks on Palestinians.

In a statement announcing the action, department spokesperson Matthew Miller cited attacks by Lions’ Den on Israelis as well as Palestinians in the West Bank since 2022.

“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.

The move freezes any assets the group holds under U.S. jurisdiction and bars Americans from dealing with the group, although it was unclear if Lions’ Den held any such assets or connections.

Other Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have been designated under more stringent U.S. counterterrorism authorities, but Thursday’s move falls short of taking that step for Lion’s Den.

The group emerged in recent years in the Old City of Nablus in the West Bank and has engaged in firefights with Israeli forces and attacks on Jewish settlements.

Since the 1967 Middle East war, Israel has occupied the West Bank of the Jordan River, which Palestinians want as the core of an independent state. It has built settlements there that most countries deem illegal. Israel disputes this and cites historical and Biblical ties to the land.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Jasper Ward; editing by Rami Ayyub and Chizu Nomiyama)