TEL AVIV – A chilling picture of Hamas-run “summer camps” has emerged from the Gaza Strip showing children as young as three-years-old joining terror training recreations designed “to liberate Palestine from the Zionist occupation.”
Hamas mouthpiece Al-Risalah published an article noting that the lofty goal of resisting Israel by means of terror is no longer reserved only for the elites and has now spread into the general public. This year, some 30,000 Gaza youths participated in two week summer camps run by Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing.
According to officials, the ultimate purpose of the summer camps is to groom Gaza’s younger generation to form a “broad popular army” ready to take on Israel.
This year’s camps were dedicated to the “Al Quds [Arabic for Jerusalem] Intifada,” the Palestinian name given for the wave of attacks against Israelis that began last October. The camps included firearms and knife training and lessons from the Quran on how to wage jihad. A selection of images from the camp appears below courtesy of MEMRI:
An Al-Qassam official said that “the goal of the camps is to stoke the embers of jihad among the generation of liberation, to inculcate Islamic values and to prepare the army of victory for liberating Palestine,” the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported.
The camps were given different names relating to the recent campaign of terror, including “Knife Camp,” “Soldiers of Al-Quds,” and a third named after Baha Aliyan, the terrorist involved in a combined stabbing and shooting attack on a Jerusalem bus in October, in which three people were killed and nine were wounded.
The camps’ activities were documented on dedicated social media accounts and news reports in Hamas-affiliated newspapers. Photos from a parade honoring terrorists were posted on the different camps’ social media pages.
Al-Risalah reported that the camps’ slogans included “O Al-Aqsa, We Shall Redeem You with Blood”; “Free the Prisoners from the Jails,” and “Defend the Holy Places.”
In an interview with the newspaper, 19-year-old camper, Ahmad Sami, said he had enrolled in the camp because of his “intense desire to join the ranks of the resistance in the future, when he finished his university studies, and to participate in liberating Palestine from the occupation.”
One of the camps hosted an exhibition for the public featuring weapons used by Hamas in operations against Israel. The weapons on display included sniper guns, mortars, anti-tank mines, Gaza-manufactured short-range Qassam rockets, longer-range rockets, and a Hamas-manufactured UAV.
Also on display were an Israeli UAV and other Israeli parts of gear that had fallen into Hamas hands. In addition, visitors were invited to tour a tunnel dug especially for training the campers.
Ibrahim Al-Madhoun, a columnist for Al-Risalah, wrote that the camps provide a “golden opportunity to realize the dreams of this generation to join the training, prepare [for battle] and carry arms.”
Al-Madhoud asserted that the Al Qassam Brigades camp movement, established three years ago, has transformed the hitherto passive Gazan public into a proactive resistance force.
“Resistance is spreading from the elites to the general public, in an attempt to create an entire generation of resistance [fighters] that can defend itself,” he wrote.
“Our Palestinian people are jihad fighters by nature, who rise up and aspire to take part in armed combat,” Al-Madhoud added.
He also referred to Hamas’ “quality victory” in the 50-day conflict in 2014.
Hamas officials, such as Mahmoud Al-Zahhar and Hamas Internal Security Chief Fathi Hamad, paid visits to the camps and many officials were present at the various graduation ceremonies.
Officials commended the camps for preparing “the generation of liberation.” A recorded speech by Hamas Political Bureau head Khaled Mashaal was screened at the graduation ceremony of a camp in Dir Al-Balah on July 22.
In it, Mashaal said: “Hamas has two main goals: liberating Palestine and resisting the occupation… There is no room in Palestine for the Zionist entity, and the only way to remove it is though armed resistance.”
He concluded by praising “the steadfast and determined Palestinian people to liberate its land, its prisoners and its holy places, chief of them Al-Aqsa,” in reference to the mosque near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. More pictures below: