Region of Concern: Israel; Palestine
Written By Rohit Shankar Ram; Edited by Salomon Montaguth and Jennifer Loy
Date: March 26, 2023
Map of the West Bank with the Salfit Governorate Highlighted in Red
Event: Threatening “many surprises that would shake the brutal [Israeli] entity,” the newly formed Battalion of Martyr Omar Abu Laila announced its creation and its hostile intentions towards Israel on March 26. The militia primarily operates out of the northern West Bank, in the city of Salfit. Its announcement signaled a desire to consolidate power around Salfit before expanding operations throughout the region. The group’s combatants are diverse, including former members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). It is the newest addition to the local armed groups active in the northern West Bank, including the Jenin Battalion, Lion's Den, Nablus Battalion, and Balata battalion. Its formation takes place during a period of increased cooperation between West Bank militias.
Significance: The Battalion of Martyr Omar Abu Laila’s consolidation of power around the West Bank presents a very likely imminent danger to Israelis living in the Salfit Governorate. The group will likely engage in high-profile attacks to unite its diversely affiliated militants. The settlement of Ariel is most likely to be targeted due to its proximity to Salfit. The IDF’s preoccupation with Jerusalem during Ramadan is very likely to present the opportunity for an attack. Its militants’ ties to Hamas and PIJ indicate a roughly even chance that it is receiving external support.
Recommendations: The Palestinian Authority and Israel are encouraged to host de-escalation dialogues to prevent Ramadan and Passover tensions from enabling a potential attack. The CTG recommends that the Israeli government inform Ariel citizens of the battalion's formation and the imminent threat it poses. The Israeli government is encouraged to assure the safety of Palestinians during Ramadan to secure the Palestinian Authority’s cooperation in identifying the group’s capabilities. The IDF and Israeli government must maintain the status quo on the West Bank to prevent any incidents that may cause the group to gain momentum and support. The US and international community are recommended to take diplomatic measures and provide incentives which encourage Israel to take this course of action.
 New Palestinian Terrorist Group Emerging in West Bank - Report, i24 News, March 2023. https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/middle-east/palestinian-territories/1679828034-new-palestinian-terrorist-group-emerging-in-west-bank-report
 3 Islamic Jihad terrorists Arrested Near Tulkarm Amid Armed Clashes, The Jerusalem Post, March 2023. https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/article-735426