Hamas has special summer activities for the children of Gaza: a terrorist summer camp. “Come to summer camps of Islam, religion and fun,” Hamas offers children and youth. Along with visits to the zoo, the proposed fun also includes training in shooting firearms, dismantling and assembling weapons and basic acquaintance with explosives. “Here is where the preachers and leaders of the future will grow,” promises one of the counselors.
Hamas’ summer project, which operates under the name “Freedom for the Prisoners” and is managed by two Islamic societies belonging to Hamas, started about 10 days ago: Several dozen summer camps were set up throughout the Gaza Strip, and dozens of children were “recruited” for each. In all, hundreds and perhaps thousands of children took part in the camps. Officially, the camps were designated for children of seventh to ninth grades, but in practice, much younger children registered.
The camps are held inside mosques and Islamic schools, far from the eye of the media, which is not permitted to cover the activity inside. The full content of the summer camps has also been carefully safeguarded until now. Pictures that reached Ma’ariv reveal military training, for all intents and purposes, of the children. Most of the training is carried out with wooden rifles shaped like Kalashnikovs. The children also learn to dismantle and assemble rifles and hand grenades. They are given training in shooting firearms and are instructed on explosive charges. The counselors belong to the Iz a Din al-Kassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. They are dressed in military uniforms and do not try to conceal their identity.
This article ran on July 12th, 2007 in the Philadelphia Bulletin