The armed Palestinian groups in Gaza have recently stepped up their military training amid what they refer to as the threat of a wide-scale Israeli
operation in the Strip.
In this framework dozens of children have undergone training in the past few days by gunmen from the Salah al-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees. The training included firing pistols and rifles.
"I am learning how to fight the Jews and kill Jewish children," 11-year-old Muhammad told Ynet, "the parents of the Jewish children are the soldiers and officers who kill us here. I want these parents to get a taste of what it's like to have your children killed, just as the Palestinians experience every day.
"I would rather die fighting the occupation than die at home from a missile, which is what happened to hundreds of Palestinian children," he said.
'A taste of what Palestinians experience every day.' Muhammad
Salah al-Din Brigades spokesman Abu Abir said the drills were aimed at keeping the operatives alert and prepared. "Every day we hear threats from Israel and witness its training exercises, therefore we must be prepared," he said, "this is an enemy that cannot be trusted and is famous for breaking its promises. The enemy even killed the prophets; it cannot be trusted."
Asked whether Israel may consider the group's military drills a provocation, Abir said "Why are they permitted to train and we are not? They are preparing to invade territory that is not theirs, and we are training to protect our lands and children."
Why not teach these children tolerance and grant them education that will serve them in the future?
"The Palestinian people support the resistance and understand that we are responding to the occupation and that these children are being recruited to help defend their homes and their land. We are preparing these children to fight the enemy, as the enemy does not differentiate between children and adults; it wants to annihilate the entire Palestinian nation."
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad on
Saturday threatened to unleash "the fires of hell" on Israel, as it staged a military parade in the south of the Islamist-ruled Gaza Strip.
"We will unleash the fires of hell if the Zionist enemy continues its crimes," said the group's military chief Abu Hamzeh after the parade by around 800 Islamic Jihad members, an AFP journalist reported.
"We're getting ready for the next round," he added, saying "the Zionist enemy will have neither peace nor security while it occupies our land."
Abu Hamzeh said his group had "hundreds of rockets" ready to launch at southern Israel.
Khader Habib, a political leader in the group, said Islamic Jihad "will not rest until we have liberated all of Palestine," referring to the movement's aim to create a Palestinian state in Israel's place.
Earlier the militants staged exercises using assault rifles rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.
The parade took place on the site of the former Jewish settlement of Gush Katif, which was evacuated when Israel withdrew settlers and forces from the Gaza Strip in August 2005.
Since June 19, Islamic Jihad has generally respected an Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas. The truce applies to Gaza only, and Islamic Jihad said it reserves the right to respond to Israeli attacks in the West Bank.
AFP contributed to the report