Children on the beach of Gaza
Green flag in Gaza
Photo: AFP

Kebab instead of weapons: Hamas summer camps in Gaza

At the Fatah summer camps the kids eat cold cuts but at Hamas' camps they get kebabs (ground-meat skewers) and falafel. Tens of thousands of children spend the summer in the Hamas-sponsored camps in the Strip. After the classes about the Prophet and Islam, they visit the beach and the zoo. Weapon courses? Forget about it

In Israel and around the world, many wish for the downfall of the Hamas government in Gaza, but on the streets, the movement is gaining popularity. As a part of its efforts to strengthen the relationship between the organization and ordinary citizens, Hamas is operating 100 summer camps throughout the Gaza Strip. Tens of thousands of children spend the summer studying the Islamic resistance movement's doctrine.


Hamas regard these camps – which are provided free of charge - as a major project. "These kids are Hamas' future army. Those who think the movement should be destroyed need to view this mighty endeavor that is a production-line of tens of thousands of activists for many years to come," said a Gazan Hamas member.


One of the kids who joined the Hamas' camp this summer is Ahmed (12), whose father is imprisoned in an Israeli jail. He talked to Ynet about his experience: "They take us to the beach and the zoo and we have many activities. We have many contests in math, general knowledge and religion. In Hamas' camps they talk a lot about the Prophet Muhammad, Islam and the history of Islam. We are not taught to use arms. They never taught us about weapons but they do teach us about Palestine and the Jews who occupied it. We learn how to be good Muslims."


'Not going away'

The summer camps are held everywhere: in school yards, the beach and even in fields. The competing movement – Fatah – on the other hand, opened only a handful of camps. "Even when Fatah was at the height of its power, they did not provide what Hamas does at the camps. They thought about making money and especially about stealing money, but Hamas think long-term," a Hamas activist told Ynet.


Indeed the conditions in the camps of rival movements are totally different. Hamas is a much wealthier and popular organization and employs many more counselors, offers a larger variety of activities and even gives the children generous portions of meat for lunch.


"This morning we ate a falafel and for lunch we had kebab," said Ahmed. At Fatah camps, the children settle for cold cuts.


Hamas does not disguise its intentions for the future: "These kids will become activists. The good students are sent to special seminars, we sponsor their academic education in the Islamic University and thus we nurture a leadership and membership for the future.


"The world might try to weaken Hamas, but we'll never go away. It's pointless. Hamas is the future of Palestinians, at least in the Gaza Strip. If you don't believe it – come visit the green summer camps,"  the activist told Ynet.


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פרסום ראשון: 08.05.07, 16:10
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