Popular Resistance Committees (PRC)

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) is a loose grouping of armed factions formed during the Second Intifada in the southern Gaza Strip by members of Fatah who became opposed to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Oslo Accords. There seems to be little difference between the PRC (its political branch) and the al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades (its armed wing). The PRC are currently led by Abu Yasser Shashnyeh. Israel accuses Iran of supporting and funding the PRC. 

The PRC and its al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades coordinate closely with Hamas and contribute personnel to the Gaza police force. They are the third largest armed group in Gaza after Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (IQB) and Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades (AQB). Hamas reportedly put the group's former leader, Jamal Abu Samhadana, in charge of its new paramilitary policy – the ‘Executive Force’ – after winning the 2006 elections.  

The Economist's former Palestine correspondent Graham Usher reported that “​the bulk of fighters were from the tanzim, including officers in the PA’s intelligence and police forces”. Its al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades were formed by members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (AMB) in Gaza. It is also thought to include former members of the PFLP.

The PRC is inspired by Islamist ideology and have become strong allies of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They do not participate in the politics of the PA or the PLO. They advocate armed resistance, but unlike other Palestinian Islamist groups, their stated goal is the creation of a Palestinian state based on the pre-June 1967 borders. 

In April 2001, Yasser Arafat ordered the PRC to be dissolved and its fighters to “return to their original security institutions”. PRC leaders refused to comply

The PRC has participated in joint military operations with IQB, including the capture and holding of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. They are thought to be behind a minority of the rocket fire from Gaza witnessed in early 2017, as well as the 17 February 2017 IED attack on IDF soldiers on the Gaza border. In September 2005, they claimed responsibility for the killing of Moussa Arafat (Yasser Arafat's cousin and former head of the Palestinian security services) in Gaza claiming: “we have executed the will of God and the rule of law because he killed people, ordered assaults on fighters and he had a big file of corruption.” The PRC is also linked to the killing of 3 US diplomats in Gaza in October 2003.

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