Popular Resistance Committees

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Emblem of the Popular Resistance Committees

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) (Arabic: لجان المقاومة الشعبية, Lijān al-Muqāwama al-Shaʿbiyya) are a coalition of various armed Palestinian factions that oppose the conciliatory approach adopted by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah towards Israel. Active in the Gaza Strip, the military wing of the PRC is the Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades.[1]

Set up in late 2000 by former Fatah and Tanzim member Jamal Abu Samhadana, the PRC are composed primarily of ex-Fatah fighters 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. The PRC is described as a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States.[citation needed]

Activities[edit]

The PRC have been involved in a number of bombing attacks on both 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 in 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 designed 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.[2]
  • 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.[3]
  • 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.[4]
  • On March 6, 2008 the PRC detonated a roadside charge near the Kissufim crossing, killing an Israeli officer and wounding three others, one critically.[5]

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.[6] 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 while the suspects were PRC activists, they were not those responsible for the attack. The men were released in March 2004, less than one year after the attack.

On July 17, 2004, Jenin Martyr's Brigade, a part of the PRC, kidnapped Palestinian Civil Police Forces Chief Ghazi al-Jabali at gunpoint in an ambush of his convoy which wounded two bodyguards. Al-Jabali was only released after Palestinian President Yasser Arafat agreed to PRC demands that he be fired.[7][8]

The PRC are also involved in Rafah's smuggling tunnels [9] which have been used to smuggle weapons, explosives, fugitives and civilian supplies etc.[10][11][12][13]

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 considered 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 hit-list.[14]

On Sunday, June 25, 2006, PRC, together with Hamas and Jaish al-Islam ("the Army of Islam") launched a major attack via tunnel near the Kerem Shalom outpost. Eight Palestinian fighters 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. Shalit was released five years later in a prisoner exchange.[15][16]

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." [14][17][18]

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.[19]

In August 18, 2011, Israel accused the PRC in committing the 2011 southern Israel attacks in which 8 Israelis were killed in firing and suicide bombing on two buses and a car near the Israeli-Egyptian border north to Eilat. On the evening of the same day, the Israeli Air Force, working with Shin Bet,[20] bombed the homes of The Popular Resistance Committees' members in Rafah. Among the dead as identified by the group were their commander, Kamal al-Nairab and their military chief, Immad Hammad,[21] and at least two more top members of the group and another member.[20] The airstrike occurred in the southern Gaza Strip, close to the Egyptian border.[22][23] The PRC responded to the raids in saying that it vows "double" revenge for the attack.[20]

On March 9, 2012 an Israeli Air Force strike in Gaza killed the secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhir al-Qaisi (Zuhair al-Qaissi).[24]

Hezbollah connection[edit]

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.[25][26] The organization outwardly projects this relation through its mimicry of the Hezbollah flag which also bears a fist clenching a Kalashnikov rifle and stylized writing.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (September 15, 2009). "HUMAN RIGHTS IN PALESTINE AND OTHER OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  2. ^ "Middle East | Gunmen kill Jewish settler family". BBC News. 2004-05-03. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  3. ^ nrg
  4. ^ "Middle East | Israeli killed in suicide bombing". BBC News. 2008-02-04. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  5. ^ "IDF soldier killed near Kissufim crossing - Israel News, Ynetnews". Ynetnews.com. 1995-06-20. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  6. ^ "Palestinians bomb US convoy | World news". The Guardian. 2003-10-16. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  7. ^ Civil Police (al-Shurta Madaniyya) GlobalSecurity.org
  8. ^ Arafat appoints West Bank and Gaza Strip police chief - Al-Jazeera.
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ Boston.com
  11. ^ CSIS
  12. ^ "mideastreality.com". mideastreality.com. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  13. ^ http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=429159&contrassID=1
  14. ^ a b Ynet
  15. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/731196.html
  16. ^ "UK demands release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit". CNN. August 28, 2010. 
  17. ^ "JPost | French-language news from Israel, the Middle East & the Jewish World". Fr.jpost.com. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  18. ^ "Abductors present Eliyahu Asheri's ID card - Israel News, Ynetnews". Ynetnews.com. 1995-06-20. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  19. ^ cordover.blogspot "Big Gun Politics: Can Armed Political Parties Fairly Participate in Political Processes?" Cafe Cordover by Adam B. Cordover
  20. ^ a b c "Israel launches strikes on Gaza after attacks – Middle East – Al Jazeera English". English.aljazeera.net. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Israeli airstrike targets Gaza after 7 killed in southern Israel". CNN. August 19, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  22. ^ "UPDATE 1-Israeli air strike kills chiefs of Gaza's PRC group". Af.reuters.com. February 9, 2009. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  23. ^ Issacharoff, Avi (April 10, 2011). "IDF strikes Gaza in wake of deadly terror attacks; senior Palestinian militant killed – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News". Haaretz. Israel. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  24. ^ Issacharoff, Avi (2012-03-09). "IDF strike in Gaza kills leader of Popular Resistance Committees Israel News". Haaretz. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  25. ^ "מיהו ארגון ועדות ההתנגדות העממית? - וואלה! חדשות". News.walla.co.il. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  26. ^ "News1 | ועדות ההתנגדות - ארגון טרור". Nfc.co.il. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 

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