Alongside social activities, sports and entertainment, the camps featured radical Islamic Hamas ideological indoctrination and semi-military training (including instruction in firing rockets and abducting IDF soldiers).
Top: Children in a schoolyard at a Rafah-region summer camp carry camouflaged rocket launchers and rifles (Facebook page of the Rafah-region summer camp, June 2, 2014)
Bottom: The summer camp in the Al-Tawam neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip. The children were taught how to hold a Kalashnikov assault rifle; the lesson was held in a mosque (Facebook page of the Al-Tawam summer camp, June 23, 2014)
Every year summer camps are held throughout the Gaza Strip during the summer vacation, for the most part organized by Hamas (a small number are organized by the other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip and by Islamic associations). This year more than 120,000 Gazan children and pupils in the eighth through twelfth grades participated. The camps featured social activities, sports and entertainment alongside radical Islamic Hamas ideological indoctrination and semi-military training (including instruction in firing rockets and abducting IDF soldiers). The activities focused on three areas:
1) Semi-military exercises – The exercises were an important part of the campers’ activities this year as well, and included uniformed campers crawling on their stomachs, standing in parade formation, firing light arms, simulating firing rockets into Israeli territory, abducting and beating IDF soldiers, etc. They also studied military theory, such as operating weapons. Their instructors wore uniformsand some of them belonged to the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing. Military training is integrated into the Al-Futuwwa program held in the schools during the academic year, introduced into the curriculum by Hamas in 2012, for tens of thousands of Gazan youths who receive theoretical and practical military training as part of their required studies.
2) Radical Islamic Hamas indoctrination – Hamas operatives indoctrinate the youths with Hamas’ brand of radical Islam. They particularly stress themes of the conflict with Israel, among them the so-called "liberation" of Palestine [i.e., the destruction of the State of Israel], adherence to jihad and the armed terrorist struggle against Israel [the "resistance"] as the only way to resolve the conflict, and the so "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees.
Hamas (and the other terrorist organizations) use the summer camps effectively to indoctrinate Gazan children and adolescents with the ideology of jihad and radical Islam. The camps are part of the Gaza Strip’s educational system, in which tens of thousands of Gazan children and youths receive semi-military training in governmental schools. Hamas uses its educational system to train new generations of activists, operatives and supporters who will join the Hamas movement and its military-terrorist wing, will take part in terrorist activities against Israel, and ensure Hamas’ long-term control over the Gaza Strip.
- In the summer camp held in the town of Khzaa’, east of Khan Yunis, semi-military training was held in the schoolyard. The activities included rocket fire practice and navigating an obstacle course of burning tires while in uniform and holding toy guns. The Hamas instructors also wore uniforms. Hamas flags decorated the area (Facebook page of the Khzaa’ summer camp, June 16, 2014).
- Simulating an abduction – On June 21, 2014, a military exercise was held in aschoolyard in the Khan Yunis region. The campers practiced firing rockets and abducting Israeli soldiers from a jeep and from an Israeli post after a raid (Gaza Al-‘Aan, June 21, 2014). According to the summer camps Facebook page, "a camp in the central region carried out a ‘military raid’… It ended with the abduction of two Zionist enemy soldiers. They [the campers who carried out the raid] negotiated for their release in return for the release of all our prisoners in enemy jails and in return for recognition of the state of Palestine and its capital, Jerusalem."
- Campers at a summer camp in the Ma’an neighborhood near Khan Yunis practiced firing Kalashnikov assault rifles (under the tutelage of Hamas terrorist operatives), andsimulating the takeover of an Israeli military post and of the abduction of a soldier(Facebook page of the Khan Yunis-region summer camp, June 23, 2014).
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