Popular Resistance Committees

Popular Resistance Committees

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) are various Palestinian militant organizations which operate in the Gaza Strip and are regarded as terrorist organizations by Israel and the United States.Set up late 2000 by former Fatah and Tanzim member Jamal Abu Samhadana, the PRC are composed primarily of ex-Fatah militants and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades members and are alleged by Israel to be inspired and financed by Hezbollah. The PRC specializes in planting roadside bombs and vehicle explosive charges - directed against military and civilian convoys in the Gaza Strip.


The PRC have been involved in a number of bombing attacks on military and civilian targets in the Gaza Strip, including the following:

*The November 20, 2000 bombing of a bus full of children as it passed near Kfar Darom killing two.
*The October 8 shooting attack on a bus carrying airport workers near the Rafah terminal on October 8, 2000, wounding 8 civilians, and a similar attack on a car on the road from Kerem Shalom to the Rafah terminal, killing the woman driver
*Mortar attacks on April 28, 2001 on the Netzer Hazani agricultural Israeli settlement the Gaza Strip (wounding five, one seriously), and similar attacks on Kfar Darom on April 29 and on Atzmona on May 7 of the same year.
*The February 14, 2002 killing of three Israeli soldiers using large explosive charges meant for tanks, and similar killings of three more soldiers on March 14 and one more on September 5 of that same year.
*The May 2, 2004 killing of the unarmed and pregnant Tali Hatuel, and her four daughters aged 2 to 11, on Kissufim road. The PRC and Islamic Jihad jointly claimed responsibility, also claiming that the attack was in retaliation for earlier Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killings of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3679395.stm BBC] 3 May 2004 "Gunmen kill Jewish settler family"]
*The January 13, 2005 killing of six Israeli settlers at the Karni Passage near Gaza, carried out together with Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. [ [http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART/853/807.html nrg] Hebrew]
*On February 4, 2008 the Israeli Air Force assassinated the PRC's top military leader, Amer Qarmut (Abu Said) in response to a joint suicide bombing by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Dimona, which killed one Israeli. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7225775.stm BBC News] Israeli killed in suicide bombing]
*On March 6, 2008 the PRC detonated a roadside charge near the Kissufim crossing, killing an Israeli officer and wounding three others, one critically. [ [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3515706,00.html YnetNews] Israeli killed near Kissufim Crossing]

In addition, the Palestinian National Authority arrested several PRC members, accusing them of being responsible for planting the explosives which, on October 15, 2003, destroyed a US diplomatic convoy at Beit Hanoun, killing three security guards and severely wounding a diplomat. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,1063942,00.html Guardian] ] The PRC confirmed the men were PRC members, and initially claimed responsibility for the attack, but later denied carrying out the attack, saying it was against Palestinian interests. Following the attack, the US demanded that the Palestinian Authority find those responsible and bring them to justice. Palestinian officials said that because of lack of progress in the attack investigation, the US halted financial support for the PA and placed unofficial sanctions on its accounts. After heavy US pressure, the PA tried four suspects in a Palestinian military court, but intelligence agencies dismissed the tribunal as a "mock trial" and said the suspects indeed were PRC activists, but not those responsible for the attack. The suspects were released in March 2004, less than one year after the attack.

The PRC are also involved in Rafah's smuggling tunnels [ [http://www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/8_04/pto.htm] ] which have been used to smuggle weapons, explosives, drugs, fugitives, cigarettes etc. [ [http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2003/10/11/8_killed_as_israelis_raid_camp_in_gaza?mode=PF Boston.com] ] [ [http://www.csis.org/features/EscalatingToNoWhere/Ch14.pdf CSIS] ] [ [http://mideastreality.com/english/rafahtunnel.html] ] [ [http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=429159&contrassID=1 Ha'aretz] ]

The PRC claimed responsibility for the assassination of Moussa Arafat on September 7, 2005.

In early June 2006, PRC leader Jamal Abu-Samhadana was killed by IDF forces. As the man responsible for a number of attacks, including the bombing of a children's school bus near Kfar Darom in November 2000 and for the 2003 infiltration into an IDF outpost in Rafah that left several soldiers dead, he was considered one of the most wanted Palestinians on the IDF's list. [ [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3268219,00.html Ynet] ]

On Sunday, June 25, 2006, PRC, together with Hamas and Jish al-Islam ("the Army of Islam") launched a major attack via tunnel near the Kerem Shalom outpost. Eight Palestinian militants used a nearly one km tunnel that they had dug over the past several months to cross the border between Gaza and Israel. The unexpected attack ended with one soldier- Corporal Gilad Shalit- captured, two dead and four wounded. Two of the Palestinian attackers were killed while the other six made it back to the Gaza Strip with Shalit. [ [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/731196.html Ha'aretz] ]

The same day of the tunnel attack, Eliyahu Asheri, an 18 year old Israeli student, went missing near the West Bank. The PRC shortly claimed responsibility for kidnapping and murdering him. Spokesman for the group, Abu Abir, also announced that the PRC had formed special units in the West Bank whose sole purpose is to kidnap soldiers and settlers, in accordance with the continued Operation "Cavaliers' Wrath." [ [http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1150885858552&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull Jpost] ] [ [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3268219,00.html Ynet] ] [ [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3268533,00.html Ynet] ]

On August 8, 2007, the PRC announced that it would form a political party to run in future Palestinian elections. It vowed, however, to keep its armed wing intact. [ [http://cordover.blogspot.com/2007/08/big-gun-politics-can-armed-political.html cordover.blogspot] "Big Gun Politics: Can Armed Political Parties Fairly Participate in Political Processes?" Cafe Cordover by Adam B. Cordover]

Alleged Hezbollah Connection

According to Israel, the relation between the PRC and Hezbollah is more than coincidental. Israel alleges the organization enjoys financing and technical support from Hezbollah since its founding, and is a sort of proxy of Hezbollah's influence in the Gaza Strip. [http://news.walla.co.il/?w=//931483] [http://www.nfc.co.il/archive/003-D-15858-00.html?tag=12-28-39]


External links

* [http://www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/8_04/pto.htm The Leading Palestinian Terrorist Organizations (August 2004)] from the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S)
* [http://www.omedia.org/Show_Article.asp?DynamicContentID=2520&MenuID=603&ThreadID=1014010 The Resistance Committees: Between a Movement and a Party]

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