Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has adopted an intensive training program for Palestinian boys in the preparatory and secondary stages from all governorates of the Gaza Strip. Under the slogan: “Vanguards Liberation camps advancing to Jerusalem,” it opened its military training camps in summer and invited Palestinian youth to join them, where the brigades put all the possibilities of their training crews.
Highly skilled and experienced Al-Qassam Brigades members are training children and teaching them to use different weapons. Children are going under multiple military tests that simulate wars. These exercises come to prepare “a generation of resistance that will liberate Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Israeli occupation”, according to its propaganda.
The annual camps launched by Hamas every year are based on the idea of attracting young people from different governorates of the Gaza Strip, training them in military and physical skills: building physical strength and using weapons, taking safety and security measures, self-defense training, fitness and endurance, and immunizing youth intellectually and emotionally.
“At least 66,000 Palestinian children have joined Hamas summer training camps in the Gaza Strip, where they are trained to use weapons,” Israeli spokesman of the Army, Avichai Adraee says.
“Hamas does not hide this war crime that is being committed against the children of Gaza at the first place, Hamas is doing what ISIS has done, and the great tragedy is that their parents allow them to be abused, because Hamas trains children in Gaza to deliberately use them as human shields,” he indicates.
Abu Hamza, a member of the Al-Qassam Brigades and one of the camp’s training officials, has said that the Vanguards of Liberation camps organized by the Al-Qassam Brigades exceeded the number allocated by the organized leadership, as the number of participants reached nearly 12,000. He has indicated that during the camp, various programs are organized, such as self-defense, combat security work, as well as religious and jihadist propaganda.
In an interview with MENA Monitor, Abu Hamza has pointed out that “the idea of the camp is based on preparing a generation that will complete the fight against the Israeli occupation. The camps in Gaza also have several messages, the most important of which are: graduating a generation of faith, conscious and educated people that will debate the nation’s central issue, especially in light of the attempts to ignore the Palestinian cause in light of normalization, and the affirmation that Palestine is the right compass for the nation.”
Abu Hamza has added that some of the camps were set up a limited distance from the wall between the Gaza Strip and Israel in the eastern Gaza, and the choice of this place was deliberate by the camp organizers to “impose a military equation in the face of the occupation, and to communicate messages to it that the liberation generation is coming.”
He has pointed out that “the camps have a great psychological impact on the boys, making them acquire beautiful qualities, including courage, thus will have an impact in setting goals that are more important. The camps also have a clear impact on the formation of their personalities, as it gives them strength, courage and endurance of difficulties, especially as they are exposed to doses of intensity and studied and intensive programs aimed at forming a strong structure capable of dealing with different circumstances.”
For his part, Khaled Safi, an expert on Islamic groups, has explained “that the idea of the camps organized by Hamas came after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2009, and Israel launched a devastating aggression that killed dozens of al-Qassam elements. Therefore, Hamas is trying to rearrange its ranks by attracting a new generation and training it psychologically and militarily to love fighting and martyrdom.”
“Gaza has no temptations to life other than people’s preoccupation with political talk and the extent to which the armed factions have developed, and this is what allowed Hamas to exploit the summer vacation to develop young people’s skills, but Gaza’s poor conditions, devoid of job opportunities, entertainment and travel, make the factions develop their military capabilities,” Safi says to MENA Monitor.
Safi has noted that the idea of organizing camps is expanding among the various Palestinian factions in Gaza. These camps are not limited to Hamas alone, but Islamic Jihad, the second largest military faction and supported by Iran, is working to establish more than one camp in the Gaza Strip for the second year on straight.
He has added that one of the reasons for the increase in participants’ number in the camps, especially this year, is due to the children’s will to undergo arms training, after the Israeli aggression early this summer, which was accompanied by qualitative operations by the resistance against Israel. The scenes broadcast on satellite channels and news websites planted the love of resistance and jihad in the hearts of parents, youth and children, so the number in the camps increased.
Safi also has referred that Israel fears that Hamas and other factions will organize such camps, which teach young people and children to fight the enemy and to hate Israel, as Israel comes out from every war and believes that Hamas is weak, but the approach followed by Hamas disturbs Israel since conscription in its ranks is optional and not compulsory, yet many join its ranks.