While kids from western societies are away at summer camp or summer school, some children from Palestine take a different approach to their summers.
Hamas, the Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organisation that’s designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US, hosts annual youth camps that focus on military-style training. These camps are typically held from July 25 to August 1 near the Gaza Strip and have anywhere between 15,000 to 25,000 students.
Children are often used by Hamas in their campaign against Israel — according to Al-Monitor, Hamas’ official charter emphasises the necessity to educate the future generation, who will take part in forthcoming military missions for the liberation of Palestine.
Although Hamas hosts these training camps, they have also condemned attacks using children. After three youths were killed during a failed suicide mission in 2002, the organisation called it a “national catastrophe” and issued a statement urging leaders to “remember that their lives are precious and should not be sacrificed.”
Regardless of whether or not that statement was genuine, photos show that the youth summer camps are still being conducted in the highly volatile region.
Here’s an inside look into Hamas’ summer youth camps:
Palestinian youths attended a military exercise during a summer camp organised by The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) on August 11, 2005 at an refugee camp from the Gaza Strip.
Other camps, however, are only for minors, and training is limited to lectures without the usage of firearms.
A spokesperson from one of the camps explained to Al-Monitor, 'There was a heavy turnout at these camps despite high temperatures and humidity and the difficult training conditions.'
Children are also used to dig underground tunnels leading to Israel. In a study from the Institute for Palestine Studies, as of 2012, 160 people were killed during the construction of these tunnels -- one of them even led to an Israeli kindergarten. 'Much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies,' the report said.
Although the camps may display their organizational might, other events, such as this march in commemoration of the 14th anniversary of Hamas, also depict Palestinian youth in a militaristic fashion.
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