In the Gaza Strip, as in Israel, children are currently in the midst of summer vacation, and the Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s “summer camps” are in full gear. In the past few weeks, the Palestinian groups have been holding camps throughout the strip, some of them proudly displaying rockets and other weaponry.
Hamas alone is currently conducting no less than 300 summer camps for tens of thousands of children, and the focus is on familiarizing kids with the Palestinian towns and cities destroyed in 1948, as well as instilling religious fervor in them. The camps also feature sports and military-type trainings such as crawling under barbed-wire.
Islamic Jihad has also launched its own summer camps, offering some 10,000 children activities similar to those of Hamas. The kids study passages from the Koran and participate in quizzes on religious matters, with emphasis on the required commitment to political prisoners and Palestinian land. They also learn how to hold a Qassam rocket-launcher.
Palestinian girls holding "Quds" rocket model (Photo: AP)
An Islamic Jihad operative told Ynet that the students were not exposed to real rockets but to ones made of plastic. “In the camps we emphasize the need to unite and put an end to the internal struggles. We called them ‘unity and principle maintaining camps.’”
The third organization conducting summer camps in the Gaza Strip is United Nations Relief Association (UNRA.) Fatah is abstaining from camp operation for the second year in a row, due to the limitations placed on the movement by Hamas, as well as its meager financial resources as a result of Hamas’ takeover.