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Each year the military wings of various Gazan organizations vie for the hearts of the young recruits, eager to ready themselves for fighting Israel. Thus, this year Gazans will be able to send their children to the summer programs offered by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees.
Gazan children at Hamas summer camp (Photo: EPA)
A summer camp offered by the Popular Resistance Committees (Photo: EPA)
The terror groups take the summer camps very seriously, regarding them both as the ultimate tool of recruitment of future generations of fighters and as means to raise public support for their activities.
The summer camps afford children their first encounters with neither live weaponry nor the ideology of resistance, inculcated zealously through Hamas' education system. The camps are rather an extension of that education, where learning to shoot a firearm is part of the curriculum.
Senior Hamas officials say some 100,000 children are expected to take part in the various summer camps. The Islamic group's leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said the goal of the summertime activities is to instill children with values, strengthen their moral core and spread the spirit of Jihad.
However, busy Gazan parents have non-militant alternatives this summer. UNHCR, UN's refugee agency, offers a summer camp centered on sports.
The agency said it expects some 150,000 children to attend its camps spread all along the coastal enclave. In previous years UNRWA's camp facilities were vandalized in protest for their instilling values incompatible with those of terror groups.
Chris Gunness UNRWA spokesman said "Our summer fun weeks give a sense of normality, free from politics, to 150,000 kids – still recovering from the November bombardments and trying to survive under the longest blockade in modern history."
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