- On February is, 2018, an IDF force was operating near the border security fence in the southern Gaza Strip (east of Khan Yunis). The soldiers wanted to remove a flag hung on the fence by Palestinian demonstrators. When the soldiers approached the fence a powerful IED attached to the flag was detonated by remote control. The blast injured four soldiers, two of them critically.
Hamas observation post near the Israeli border in the eastern part
of Khan Yunis. The post was attacked by Israeli Air Force aircraft in response
to the detonation of the IED (Paldf Twitter account, February 18, 2018).
- It was the most serious attack in the Gaza Strip since Operation Protective Edge (July-August 2014). It was the first time popular demonstrations near the border security fence were exploited for an attack on the IDF. The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the attack. They issued a formal announcement claiming that the attack was in response to the invasions of the “enemy” and sent the message that the organization was prepared to defend the Palestinian people (Twitter account of Filastin al-Yawm, February 17, 2018). Mahmoud al-Barim (Abu Mujahed), spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, called the detonation of the IED “a heroic action which was the natural response to the crimes committed by Israel” (Filastin al-Yawm, February 17, 2018). Hamas issued a number of statements accusing Israel of responsibility for the attack and stressing the “right” of the “resistance” to defend the residents of the Gaza Strip.
Popular Resistance Committees claim of responsibility for the attack on the IDF soldiers (Facebook page of Sawt al-Muqawama, February 17, 2018).
- The Popular Resistance Committees is a Palestinian terrorist organization established in the Gaza Strip at the end of 2001 during the second intifada. It was established by Jamal Abu Samhadana, who was killed by the IDF on June 8, 2006. In the past it was a Hamas proxy and subcontractor for Hamas terrorist attacks. The most prominent Popular Resistance Committees attack was carried out near Eilat on August 18, 2011, in which eight Israelis were killed. Popular Resistance Committees operatives denied involvement in the attack. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a structure in the Gaza Strip where there were operatives of the organization and killed Kamal Nirab, head of its military-terrorist wing. In retaliation the organizations fired dozens of rockets into Israel. However, the current connections between the Popular Resistance Committees and Hamas are unclear.