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Popular Resistance Committees

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Popular Resistance Committees emblemPopular Resistance Committees - (Arabic: لجان المقاومة الشعبية) The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) are a Palestinian militant Islamist group  formed some time before October 8, 2000 in Gaza to lead attacks on Israeli civilian and military targets as part of the Second Intifada. Their stated objective based on public declarations is elimination of the state of Israel and their declarations indicate that they favor genocidal murder of its Jewish inhabitants. They are classified as a terrorist group by the Israeli and United States governments. The Popular Resistance Committees has several hundred operative in Gaza, though it is unlcear if these are also counted as militants of other organizations that are constituents of the PRC.  On August 8 2007 the Popular Resistance Committees announced formation of a political party that would run in Palestinian elections.

Foundation of the Popular Resistance Committees

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) were founded by Jamal abu Samhadana (or Jamil Samhadana, a Fatah member. Its membership includes former or current members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, members of the Palestinian Police, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Hamas. It is not clear whether the Popular Resistance Committees members have remained in their original organizations, making the PRC into an umbrella organization, or whether they have left those organizations. If it is an umbrella organization, then considering the radical Islamist ideology of the PRC, the ideological makeup of the constituent groups, which include the secular Fatah and Marxist Popular Front, is bizarre. The group, supposedly created as a result of the Second Intifada that began at the end of September 2000, was already active in terror attacks on October 8, 2000.

The foundation of this group so close to the start of the supposedly spontaneous Second Intifada may be indicative of prior planning for the uprising, and of collusion of the Palestinian Authority. It would be most remarkable if in a supposedly isolated and occupied area, under the supervision of the IDF as well as the Palestine Police, a group of this nature could be organized and operational within only a few days, and even more remarkable that the Fatah, Palestine Preventive Security and Police were supposedly unable to track and immediately arrest a group composed of members from their own ranks. Palestinian Police did begin to arrest Popular Resistance Committees members.  relatively late in the Second Intifada.

Some time in 2006, a group called Jayish al Islam (or Jish al Islam) (army of Islam) either split from the Popular Resistance Committees or was deliberately spawned as an offshoot. 

Israeli authorities believe that the group is a puppet or protege of the Lebanese Hezbollah, If so, it is unclear if this relationship existed from their inception, or developed over time. Their relation with Islamic Jihad suggests that they are operated from Iran through Hezbollah

Ideology of the Popular Resistance Committees  

The Popular Resistance Committees do not seen to have a charter, but an ample understanding of their approach can be gleaned from public statements. According to them, the road map is a  "American-Zionist plot" to salvage the "Zionist enemy," "to kill the resistance and dismantle its infrastructure." ref

The leadership of the Popular Resistance Committees views "resistance in all its forms" and "Jihad in the way of Allah" as the only ways to liberate all of Palestine, "whose land, whose mountains, the holy places in it, the skies, the sea, and the political borders are part of the [Islamic] faith." Abu Samhadana, the founder, asserted that Jews are  "enemies," "betrayers," and "murderers of the prophets who also tried to murder the Prophet Mohammed." The official declarations of the Popular Resistance Committees  refer to Jews as "the sons of monkeys and pigs" and to Israel as "a Satanic entity that must be destroyed."ref Samhadana advocated opening the borders of the Arab states to a jihad against Israel until its total destruction.ref

Members of the Popular Resistance Committees

Jamal Atayah Zid Abu Samhadana (or Jamil Samhadana), founder and head of the Popular Resistance Committees. Born in 1963, resident of Rafah, formerly imprisoned, married and father of five. In 1982 he fled from Gaza to Egypt, and returned in 1994. Samhadana belonged to the Fatah. In 2000, at or before the inception of the Second Intifada, he established the Popular Resistance Committees. Responsible for a large number of deadly attacks against Israeli targets and for firing mortars and Qassam rockets at Gush Katif and at Israel. In April of 2006, the Hamas portion of the Palestinian Unity Government appointed Samhadana to head the Executive Force, a new Palestinian security force which would have the goal of fighting Israel. Mahmoud Abbas tried to cancel the appointment and to prevent the formation of the Executive force. Samhadana was killed by Israeli forces on July 8, 2006.

Al-Abed Yusuf al-Abed Qoqa (or Abu Yusuf Abu Quka)  - head of the Popular Resistance Committees in the northern Gaza Strip. Born in 1962, resident of Gaza, married and father of six. Belonged to Hamas at least in the past, and served as an officer in the PA security organizations. He was responsible for weapons production in the PRC including rocket production. Involved in a number of deadly attacks, including roadside bombs against IDF tanks and rocket fire. Killed in a car-bomb explosion on March 31, 2006, possibly killed by Israel or the Fatah aligned forces, as he was "aligned" with Hamas.

Muhammad Abd al-A'al (Abu Abir) - official spokesman of the Popular Resistance Committees. Killed by IAF missile on January 22, 2006.

'Amr Qarmout (or Amar Qarmot or Amer Qarmut) - senior operative. Involved in terror attacks against Israel and especially the Dimona suicide attack. Killed by IAF on February 4, 2008.

Muhammad Kamal al-Baba - senior operative. Joined the Popular Resistance Committees after being a member of Fatah and, subsequently, Hamas. Director of PRC information office.

Kamal Nayrab (or Kamal an Nayrab) - replaced Jamal Samhadana as Secretary General of the PRC.

Major attacks of the Popular Resistance Committees

* October 8 shooting attack on  bus carrying airport workers near the Rafah terminal wounding 8 civilians,  This was their first "operation."

November 8, 2000, PRC shoot at Israeli car, along the Kerem Shalom-Rafah road; one woman was killed while driving to her job at the Rafah border crossing.

* The November 20, 2000 bombing of a busload of school childerl of children as it passed near Kfar Darom killing two.

* Mortar attacks on April 28, 2001 on the Netzer Hazani settlement the Gaza Strip (wounding five, one seriously),

* Mortar attacks  on Kfar Darom on April 29.

* Mortar attacks  on Atzmona on May 7 of the same year.

* February 14, 2002 killing of three Israeli soldiers and blowing up of a Merkava tank.

* March 14, 2002 killing of Israeli soldiers and blowing up of a Merkava tank.

* September 5, 2002  killing of an Israeli soldier and blowing up of a Merkava tank.

* May 2, 2004 killing of  unarmed and pregnant Tali Hatuel, and her four daughters aged 2 to 11, on Kissufim road.  PRC and Islamic Jihad jointly claimed responsibility.

* September 26, 2004,  IDF post at the settlement of Morag  was penetrated; three soldiers were killed and one wounded.

* 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.

* July 24, 2005, a drive-by shooting on the Kissufim road killed two Israelis.

* September 7, 2005 assassination of Musa Arafat, Yasser Arafat's cousin who had been appointed to head security in Gaza.  

*June 8, 2006 - Joint suicide bombing of PRC with or by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Dimona, killed one Israeli.

* June 25, 2006 - With Jayish al Islam, kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and killing of soldiers in tunnel raid.

*June 25, 2006 -  Kidnapping and murder of Eliyah Asheri, age 18. Jointly with al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

* March 6, 2008  PRC detonated a roadside charge near the Kissufim crossing, killing an Israeli officer and wounding three others, one critically.

Numerous mortar and rocket attacks.

Ami Isseroff

November 4, 2008  

Synonyms and alternate spellings: "Popular Resistance Committee"

Further Information: Recent history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Second Intifada Popular Resistance Committees

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The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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Popular Resistance Committees