TEL AVIV — In recent days, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian jihadist factions opened their traditional summer camps in which Palestinian youth are indoctrinated with anti-Israel propaganda while some camps conduct weapons training and teach jihadist combat tactics.
According to figures from Hamas alone, some 120,000 children attend the terrorist group’s camps. Tens of thousands more children attend camps run by other Palestinian jihadist factions.
In addition, thousands of children participate in summer camps run by the Palestinian refugee welfare agency UNWRA, where the focus is more on educational activities than those of a religious or military nature. UNRWA’s summer camps bear the name “Summer Games,” in contrast to the names of camps run by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, national resistance committees and other organizations that mostly use the names of Palestinian activists who died as “martyrs” – in other words, terrorists killed while committing attacks against Israel.
As part of the competition between the organizations for the recruitment of children into their camps, the weapons training and military exercises serve as the best promotional tool. Live shooting lessons are considered a favorite in these summer camps that will end later in July with ceremonies attended by Hamas officials and representatives of the various organizations that give certificates of recognition. The officials typically give speeches in which they praise the children for their participation in the camps and encourage them to join the different organizations.
The importance of the summer camps in the Hamas movement can be seen in the extensive coverage of them in Hamas media. Hamas operates a Supreme Committee for the Summer Camps and Usama Almuzeyni, a Hamas official responsible for the committee said, “The movement strives, through the summer camps, to train an entire generation to work for the liberation of Palestine, in addition to educating the children on the principles of moderate Islam.”
Amuzeyni noted that the summer camps this year will be themed “‘to Jerusalem we come’ … to make it clear that Hamas faces one direction, and that is Jerusalem and occupied Palestine.” According to Amuzeyni, camp activities this summer will include “cultural activities, sports and security.”
Ibrahim Sarour, a Gaza resident, told Breitbart Jerusalem that his two sons will participate this summer in a camp run by Hamas. According to Sarour, the camps are free and the children benefit from the education and being kept busy. He said he preferred that they enjoy the camps rather than spend the summer on the street or on the beach.
Regarding weapons, Sarour said, “I hope that they would not need to use them, but if the situation doesn’t change and they need to fight for Palestine in the future, then their participation in these camps can train them to be soldiers in the future. This isn’t my dream, because I want to see them get an education, but if reality continues to force us to fight for our land, then my children will have to give their service for the liberation of our homeland.”