NPR and CSM Heroize Palestinian Terrorist Lion’s Den Group

The Lion’s Den (Areen al-Usood in Arabic) is a new Palestinian terrorist group based in Nablus, that has posted videos of its attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians and claimed responsibility for a series of shooting attacks against Israelis in the Nablus area, including a drive-by shooting that killed IDF Sgt. Ido Baruch on Oct. 11.  

According to Khaled Abu Toameh, a Jerusalem-based Arab journalist who reports on Palestinian affairs, it is “the first organized armed group that consists of gunmen belonging to a number of Palestinian factions – including Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP.” He notes that “by concealing their political affiliation, the [Lion’s Den] gunmen, who are also very active in the Jenin area, are trying to make it look as though they are grassroots activists who don’t belong to any Palestinian faction.”  According to Palestinian security sources, Hamas is “behind the Lions’ Den armed group.”  

For the past few weeks, the Israel Defence Forces, together with Israeli police and the Shin Bet, have been cracking down on the terrorist group that have gained popularity with other Palestinians by posting films of their attacks on social media and who have claimed responsibility attacks on military positions, settlements and Israeli civilians in the Nablus and Jenin areas.  In a raid on the Lion’s Den headquarters in Nablus on Oct. 25, an explosives lab belonging to the group was destroyed, and five members of the group were killed in a firefight between Israeli soldiers and the armed Palestinian gunmen, including  founder and commander Wadi al Houh. Another leader, Tamer al-Kilani, who is believed to have dispatched a terrorist to carry out a large-scale attack in Tel Aviv, which was thwarted by Israeli security forces, was killed in an explosion in the casbah in Nablus two days earlier. Subsequently, four more terrorist members turned themselves in to Palestinian Authority security services for protection from Israeli counter-terrorism operations.

How has the Western media deceived audiences about the nature of the new terrorist group and attempts by Israel to defend itself against the group’s terror attacks?

CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal reported on how CNN protected the terror group.  Here’s how other media outlets similarly misled news consumers.

National Public Radio (NPR)

NPR heroized the terrorists and whitewashed their deadly mission and deeds, portraying them as “TikTok-savvy Palestinian fighters” who were “testing Israeli forces in the West Bank.”

Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch who was killed in a Lion’s Den drive-by shooting.

Never mind 21-year-old Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch who lost his life protecting participants in holiday festivities – an annual Sukkot march — when Lion’s Den terrorists targeted him in a drive-by shooting.  Never mind the children riding a schoolbus targeted by the Lion’s Den group on Oct. 2 who would have been tragic casualties had the terrorists succeeded in their mission, or the children forced to duck behind parked cars as Lion’s Den terrorists aimed their gunfire at Israeli vehicles near the settlement of Elon Moreh. Never mind the Israeli taxicab driver who was injured when Lion’s Den terrorists fired at his car. And pay no heed to the men, women and children threatened by the group’s terrorist attacks that were thwarted by Israeli security forces. 

None of this is of interest to the NPR reporter who conceals details of the Lion’s Den attacks,  their ties to well-known terrorist groups, and their targeting of civilians. Correspondent Daniel Estrin instead seek a narrative that blames Israel and heroizes the Palestinian terrorists.  He thus reverses the roles, decrying an Israeli counter-terrorism operation as “brazen” and “bloody” while heroizing the terrorists who seek to slaughter Israeli Jews as “a new renegade group of young armed men, many in their teens and early 20s” who are part of “a new generation of Palestinians who feel they have little to lose.”  

Estrin ignores the group’s own filmed attacks and claims of responsibility, suggesting that its deadly shooting of an Israeli soldier is just a claim by the Israeli army even though the Lion’s Den group itself took credit for the fatal attack. He similarly depicts the Israeli operation’s elimination of the group’s explosive lab during the raid as a claim/excuse by the IDF, who he states “claimed to have blown up what it said was a bomb lab.” Likewise, he conceals the fact that those Palestinians killed in the counter-terrorism raid were armed terrorists who were shot in gun battles with Israeli soldiers.

Children duck behind vehicle with  other civilians and Chairman of the Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan during a shooting attack by Lion’s Den terrorists on October 2, 2022. Credit: Samaria Regional Council

The correspondent essentially justifies the terrorist group’s deadly mission, saying “their aim is to confront Israeli soldiers when they operate in Palestinian areas – and to present an alternative to the behavior of the official Palestinian security forces, which do not clash with Israeli troops conducting arrest raids.”

But the terrorists do not confront just soldiers operating in Palestinian areas, but civilians driving on roads in the West Bank that both Israelis and Palestinians use. 

However false and misleading NPR’s reporting is, it fulfils the aim of depicting the Lion’s Den as heroic fighters, rather than as terrorists intent on killing Israelis.   One need just read the report’s conclusion:

“Though Israel is determined to stamp out the Lions’ Den, the real significance of the armed group is not its numbers, but the inspiration it sparks in Palestinians throughout the West Bank. Finally, Palestinians under occupation say, they have heroes they can rally around.”

Christian Science Monitor (CSM)

Like NPR, CSM’s Taylor Luck and Fatima Abdulkarim reverse the roles of terrorism and counter-terrorism to present Palestinian terrorists as heroic freedom fighters and Israelis as the villains.  This is apparent from the headline, featured purpose of the article, and lede.

Headline: “In the Lion’s Den: What a new militia offers young Palestinians”

Why We Wrote This: “A new generation of youth-led and nonpartisan militias is tapping into the frustrations of young Palestinians disillusioned by poor prospects for peace and the economy, cut out of politics, and pressured by Israeli settlers and the military.”

Lede: “The Lion’s Den, a youth-led, nonpartisan, and nonsectarian militia based in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, is among several like it popping up across the occupied Palestinian territories. The groups are capturing the imaginations and tapping into the frustrations of Palestinian youths amid an uptick in settler attacks and an Israeli military crackdown that intensified further this week with a deadly raid against the Lions in Nablus.”

The rest of the article continues along the same lines. The details of the group’s terrorist acts are concealed while the terrorists  are presented as youthful heroes fighting against a villainous Israel. For example:

“…young men and women with no political outlets and little memory of the second intifada’s carnage are demanding a “right to self-defense” from what they see as the encroachment of the Israeli military and settlers on their daily lives and communities.”

“The groups are capturing the imaginations and tapping into the frustrations of Palestinian youths amid an uptick in settler attacks and an Israeli military crackdown that intensified further this week with a deadly raid against the Lions in Nablus.”

Israel’s counter-terrorist operations instead are presented as the real crimes:

“Israel’s raid into the old city before dawn Tuesday targeted Lion’s Den leaders and what it said was a bomb-making factory, killing six people. It prompted a general strike across the Palestinian territories in protest. Yet even as Israel continues a stifling, 16-day blockade of Nablus and night operations to dismantle what it describes as “terrorist” cells, the militia continues to address viewers directly via Telegram and other apps.”

Members and supporters of the terrorist group are quoted extensively to support the reporters’ assertions.   Ignored is the role played by Hamas and other larger terrorist group leaders in inciting and backing this group, as Palestinian security sources have reported. 

And so Western audiences continue to be deceived.  The media outlets and reporters who engage in this deception no longer adhere to a code of journalistic ethics where truth and objectivity are paramount.  Instead, they practice a sort of advocacy journalism where the search for truth is both unnecessary and undesirable and where superficial  narratives with predetermined roles of villain and hero are unalterable, no matter what the real story is. 

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