"There are very few places where kids can spend their summer vacation restfully, and we are giving them the chance to participate in an experience that will give them joy just like any normal kid," spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna told Ynet Tuesday.
- Receive Ynetnews updates directly
to your desktop
This year, the number of children taking part in UNRWA's activities is higher than those joining Hamas's summer camp.
'Camp increases self-esteem' (Photo: UNRWA)
For the fifth year in a row, the camp opened with a torch race throughout the Strip. The race included 75 children who met each other at their home towns to exchange the torch at special ceremonies.
The torch, which was made of recycled materials, will remain lighted until the activities end.
Throughout the summer, children participating in the camp will engage in sports, art workshops, and seaside games.
Modela Luz, who coordinates the activities in northern Gaza, says they are especially important for girls. "They are usually prohibited from playing in the street, but with the summer games they can do it," she said.
'Especially important for girls' (Photo: UNRWA)
Abu Hasna says the camp "increases the children's self-esteem, which was harmed by the violent incidents that took place over the past few years".
This year, the children plan to break a number of world records: 2,000 kids will try to break the record for soccer ball bouncing, 5,400 will create the world's largest hand-print picture, and 9,000 will fly kites at the same time (the current record is 6,200 airborne kites).
UNRWA says they have received enthusiastic responses. "The families support us, and every year the number of participants rises," says Abu Hasna. He added that the camp will provide jobs for 8,500 adults.
Hamas, however, has historically taken a contrary view, complaining of the lack of religious content and the mixing of boys and girls.
However, Abu Hasna claims that Hamas has "no objection" to the camp. "It's true that last year they had objections, but this year UNRWA's status in the Strip is okay."
Elior Levy is Ynet's Palestinian affairs correspondent
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook