Hamas has opened three-week-long training camps in Gaza for over 50,000 elementary, middle, and high school students, the Gaza-based terror organization said in a press release Sunday.
Hamas official Ismail Radwan explained that the theme of the camps is the “Jerusalem Intifada,” and that the goal is “to raise a generation of Palestinians who love the resistance and the liberation of Palestine and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The camps also include scouting and religious educational programming.
— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) July 10, 2016
Hamas has long encouraged Palestinian children to see themselves as soldiers against Israel, often dressing them in military uniforms and teaching them how to shoot firearms. In May, Palestinian kindergarten students in the Gaza Strip wore military fatigues and brandished toy machine guns to simulate the capture of an Israeli soldier as part of a school play.
In June 2014, al-Monitor reported that around one thousand students from ages 12 to 17 would line up each week in the Saraya neighborhood of Gaza City to receive training in “the basics of military action and security in the camps.” Mohammad Abdo, then aged 13, told al-Monitor that he wants to join Hamas and fight Israel when he’s old enough. “I want to learn everything about arms and martial arts so that I can be prepared to join al-Qassam Brigades and fight for Palestine when I grow up,” he said. More than 10,000 Palestinian teenagers graduated from such camps in 2015, after undergoing intensive military training using live ammunition, as well as hearing sermons from Hamas leaders praising armed attacks.
In the last few days, Hamas has publicly celebrated the string of attacks that killed eight Israelis last week, and commemorated rocket assaults that shook Ben-Gurion airport and the city of Dimona two summers ago.