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Palestinian Terror Groups: Popular Resistance Committees (PRC)

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      Founder: Jamal Abu Samhadana
      Founded: 2000
    Location: Gaza

The Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) is a terrorist organization active in the Gaza Strip. The organization was founded in September 2000, at the beginning of the current violent confrontation, by former Fatah and Palestinian Security apparatus members. Its ranks also include ex-Hamas terrorists, some of whom were wanted by Israel and who joined the Palestinian Preventive Security apparatus, and operatives who belonged to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian.

The organization was founded by a Rafah resident, Jamal Abu Samhadana who formerly belonged to Fatah/Tanzim. He split with Fatah and founded the PRC and is its leader. Since its inception, the PRC has been attacking Israel, and, thanks to the funding it has received, has grown from modest beginnings into an organization responsible for the murders of at least 10 Israelis. Abu Samhadana was wounded during the violent confrontation while attempting to assemble an explosive device.

The PRC (and its operational-terrorist wing, the Salah al-Din Brigades) is responsible for a large number of attacks against Israelis in the Gaza Strip, both civilians and soldiers. Some of its more prominent attacks include the following:

  • Large explosive charges meant for Israeli tanks which killed three Israeli soldiers on February 14, 2002; three more on March 14, 2002; and one on September 5, 2002.
  • Attacks on civilian targets in the Gaza Strip: a side charge was detonated as a bus full of children passed near Kfar Darom on November 20, 2000, killing two; shots were fired at a bus carrying airport workers near the Rafah terminal on October 8, 2000, wounding 8 Israeli civilians; shots were fired at a car on the road from Kerem Shalom to the Rafah terminal, killing the woman driver. Akram Salameh ‘Atia Said , a member of the PRC who was sentenced to 24 years in prison (See below), admitted during interrogation to having planned to perpetrate a suicide bombing attack at Kfar Darom.
  • Mortar attacks on Israeli targets in the Gaza Strip, including civilian villages , some within a very short period of time: three on the same day (April 28, 2001) against moshav Netzer Hazani (five young people wounded, one of them seriously); one (April 29, 2001) against the village of Kfar Darom ; and one (May 7, 2001) against the village of Atzmona.

In the past, the organization attempted to set up operations in the West Bank as well. In January 2002, Akram Salameh ‘Atia Said was sent by Jamal Abu Samhadana from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to shoot at Israeli civilians and soldiers. He infiltrated through the fence at Kissufim, went to Lod and from there to Ramallah. He was arrested on February 25, 2002, convicted and sentenced to 24 years in prison.

The PRC was apparently the organization behind the attack on the American convoy at Beit Hanoun in the northern part of the Gaza Strip (October 15, 2003). Two side charges were detonated, blowing up a vehicle and killing three security personnel who were accompanying the American cultural attaché. So far the Palestinian Authority has avoided a serious investigation of the incident.

PRC terrorists have various weapons at their disposal: small arms, explosives (commercial and homemade), mines, hand grenades and anti-tank rockets and mortars. The PRC has recently (July 2004) begun launching homemade Nasser 3 rockets at Israeli villages close to the Gaza Strip. The weapons are obtained by smuggling (usually through tunnels between Rafah and Egypt). In addition, they purchase from arms dealers and manufacturers or produced independently.

On August 18, 2011, terrorists allegedly from the PRC launched multi-pronged, coordinated attacks against targets on Highway 12 in southern Israel that killed 7 Israelis - 6 civilians and 1 soldier - and wounded more than 40. The number of terrorists who took part in the raid - which included separate attacks on two buses, an IDF jeep and at least one civilian vehicle - is unknown, though the IDF confirmed that they used automatic rifles and fired no fewer than one anti-tank missile. From initial reports at the scene, the terrorists involved also carried grenades and explosive devices. In response to the attacks, the IAF targeted PRC headquarters in the Gaza town of Rafah and confirmed killing Kamal Narab, the PRC's head in Gaza, in adiditon to at least four other senior members.

Sources: Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S)