Abu Awad PRC 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
About two hours before he was killed in an IDF air strike, the secretary-general
of the Popular Resistance Committees, Kamal al-Nayrab, packed his bags and told
his wife, “Today a lot of blood will be spilled... I’m going to be away for some
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Nayrab took clothes and documents from his home before bidding
farewell to his wife and children.
He and senior figures in the Popular
Resistance Committees had arranged to meet last Thursday at the home of Khaled
Sha’ath, who is in charge of manufacturing rockets and bombs for the group, to
discuss the repercussions of the terrorist attacks.
Nayrab, 43, who is
better known by his pseudonym Abu Awad, knew that it was only a matter of time
before Israel retaliated for the day’s attacks near Eilat
and the Egyptian
border that claimed the lives of eight Israelis.
Although the group had
denied responsibility for the attacks, Abu Awad, who had long been wanted by
Israel, knew that he and his friends were potential targets. That’s why they
decided to go into hiding.
What they did not know was that the IDF had
already discovered the place where they were staying.
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About six hours
after the terrorist attacks, Abu Awad and four of his friends were killed by two
rockets that hit the house where they were hiding in Rafah.
The four were
identified as Khaled Sha’ath, the owner of the targeted house, Emad Hammad,
commander of the group’s armed wing, Emad Nasr, a member of the group’s military
council and Khaled al- Masri, a senior figure with the group.
homeowner’s two-year-old son, Malek, was also killed.
The death of Abu
Awad, who played a major role in the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit five
years ago, has been described by his friends and family as a “severe and painful
blow” to the Popular Resistance Committees.
“His death is a huge loss for
the resistance groups in the Gaza Strip,” said Ziad Sha’ath, a longtime friend
of Abu Awad.
“It has really hurt us.”
A Palestinian journalist
described Abu Awad as one of the most senior militiamen in the southern Gaza
Strip. “He was considered a big military commander,” the journalist said. “The
Popular Resistance Committees will never be the same after Abu
According to the journalist, the Israeli air strike wiped out the
most important leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of
armed groups that has been responsible for dozens, if not hundreds, of attacks
on Israelis over the past decade.
Abu Awad co-founded the Popular
Resistance Committees with Jamal Abu Samhadanah (nicknamed Abu Ataya) after the
start of the second intifada in September 2000.
The group is one of the
most significant and powerful militias in the Gaza Strip and its membership is
estimated at several hundred.
Abu Awad and Jamal Abu managed to increase
the range of rocket-propelled grenades and were responsible for manufacturing
bombs that penetrated an IDF Merkava tank a year later in the Gaza
Under their leadership, the group also launched scores of attacks
on Jewish settlements in Gush Katif and on IDF soldiers during the second
In June 2006, while the two men were planning an operation to
infiltrate Israel to carry out a large attack, IDF missiles killed Abu
Samhadanah along with at least three other PRC members at one of the
organization’s camps in Rafah.
However, the death of Abu Samhadanah did
not stop the group from carrying out the operation two weeks later, resulting in
the abduction of Schalit.
Schalit’s kidnapping was seen as an act of
retaliation for the targeted killing of Abu Samhadanah.
friends predicted that his death would “complicate” efforts to secure the
release of Schalit. They said that he was one of the few people in the Gaza
Strip who knew where the soldier was being held.
Abu Awad joined Fatah
during the first intifada, which began in 1987. A few years later he fled to
Egypt, where he was detained by Egyptian security forces being allowed to travel
After the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, he and a number
of his colleagues returned to the Gaza Strip, where he worked as an intelligence
officer in the Palestinian Authority’s security forces.
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