Photos published in Hamas-affiliated media in the Gaza Strip showed activists from the organization’s paramilitary group, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, teaching dozens of Palestinian children how to use weapons.
These images sparked criticism among many Palestinians who argued that the children are too young to take part in such training, Fateh Voice reported (Arabic link). Social media users claimed these images paint the “Palestinian resistance” in a negative way.
What really disturbed the Palestinian critics is the fact that the training took place shortly after the recent fighting with Israel.
However, many social network users praised Hamas for giving the children weapons training. Some users described the children as heroes and the “Generation of Liberation.”
In addition, Hamas hung posters in Gaza mosques calling for young people to join the ranks of the organization. The posters read:
The training will include all small arms and some heavy weapons, such as mortars. This is in preparation for the protection of the Palestinian people in any future confrontation with the occupation.
Hamas sources said that so far, thousands of young people have registered for the training.
Hamas’s determined use of child soldiers not only violates international law, it complicates the efforts of watchdog groups to assess the group’s conflicts with Israel. Human rights groups have been criticized for inflating Palestinian civilian deaths by recording teenage male combatants killed in action as civilian deaths, despite Hamas’s open training of teenagers for combat and the group’s boasting that it uses children as jihadists.
[Photo: Christiaan Triebert / flickr]