The four Palestinians killed during the Israeli military operation in Nablus were identified as Wadee al-Houh, 31, Hamdi Sharaf, 35, Ali Antar, 26, and Hamdi Qayyim, 30.
A fifth Palestinian, Mashal Zahi Baghdadi, 27, died of his wounds hours after the Israeli troops left the city, the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced.
Wadee al-Houh: One of the founders of the Lions' Den
Houh was one of the founders and commanders of the Lions’ Den Group, which is based in the Old City of Nablus.
In recent weeks, Houh posted comments on his Facebook account in which he expressed opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to persuade the group’s gunmen to lay down their weapons and join the Palestinian security forces.
Houh is considered to have been a senior leader of the Lions' Den and was involved in several terrorist attacks in the Nablus area, including the shooting that killed IDF St.-Sgt. Ido Baruch, Army Radio reported.
In addition, Houh was a close friend of Mosab Shtayyeh, the senior Hamas operative who was arrested by the Palestinian security forces in Nablus a few weeks ago. Shtayyeh is also considered one of the top commanders of the Lions’ Den group.
Houh was previously known as a senior member of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Fatah faction. He spent time in Israeli prison for security-related offenses.
Two years ago, he was briefly detained by Palestinian Authority security officers in Nablus. He has since used his Facebook account to criticize the PA for cracking down on Palestinian activists in the West Bank.
In the past few weeks, Houh became known as the public face of the Lions' Den because of his public posts on social media platforms. He knew that the Israeli security forces were aware of his identity and activities, and that's why he did not make any effort to cover his face.
A source in Nablus said that another senior member of the group, Mahmoud al-Banna, was with Houh during the military raid, and that he was seriously injured.
The killing of Houh is yet another severe blow to the armed group, which lost another one of its commanders, Tamer al-Kilani, in an explosion earlier this week in the Old City of Nablus.
Palestinians call for general strike, day of rage
Palestinian factions called for a general strike and a “day of rage” in Nablus and other parts of the West Bank on Tuesday to mourn the death of the five Palestinians in Nablus and a sixth young man near Ramallah.
The ruling Fatah faction said in a statement that the Palestinian people “will confront the aggression of the occupation and defend their legitimate national and historical rights.”
Fatah added that the Israeli security crackdown won’t undermine “the will, steadfastness or unity of our people.” It called for an escalation of “popular resistance” against Israel, holding it responsible for perpetrating “crimes” against the Palestinians.
Palestinian Authority presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudaineh announced that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was closely following the situation in Nablus and “praising the steadfastness of the residents who are defending their land.”
In a separate incident, Palestinian sources said that Qusai al-Tamimi was killed during clashes with IDF soldiers in the village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah. He died after he was shot in the chest, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.