This year Hamas' summer camps in the Gaza Strip again combined political Islamic indoctrination and paramilitary training with social activities.

Issued on: 14/09/2010 Type: Article



Children wearing green Hamas caps drilling with guns with the Turkish flag in the background
Children wearing green Hamas caps drilling with guns with the Turkish flag in the background (Safa News Agency, July 31, 2010).

Overview

1. For the Hamas movement, children and adolescents are an important target audience, from which its future operatives will emerge. It regards its summer camps as an important means for indoctrinating them with its radical Islamist ideology of jihad. In the summer of 2010, as it does every year, Hamas ran camps for the children and adolescents of the Gaza Strip. According to one version, there were 100,000 campers, a number similar to 2009. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad ran 51 camps with 10,000 participating boys and girls.

2. Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan reported that the objectives of the camps were to raise a generation of children genuinely working for the interests of their homeland and to educate them to the culture of the Islamic faith and its values so that they would remember their goals, including Jerusalem and the prisoners.1 In addition to indoctrination, Hamas operatives provided paramilitary training. Banners were hung on the walls with slogans extolling jihad and death for the sake of Allah (See Appendix). Other prominent motifs this year were solidarity with Turkey in connection with the Mavi Marmara flotilla, a call for the release of Hamas prisoners (campers carried their posters) and manifestations of hatred for Israel and the Jews

Attacks on UNRWA summer camps

3. UNRWA's alternative summer camp system hosted 250,000 children and adolescents this past summer (2010). This year as well the camps were harassed by radical Islamist groups. On May 23 a group of 30 armed, masked men broke into an UNRWA camp site and burned it to the ground. On the night of June 28, 20 armed, masked men broke into an UNRWA camp site in the Al-Zuweida region in the central Gaza Strip and set it on fire. In both incidents the arsonists were not identified. John Ging, UNRWA director in the Gaza Strip, called the June 28 attack cowardly and shameful, and promised that the camps would be rebuilt and that UNRWA would continue its summer program for Gazan children. An UNRWA spokesman called on the security services of the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip to investigate and determine who was behind the attacks.

he UNRWA summer camp after it was torched on the night of June 28
The UNRWA summer camp after it was torched on the night of June 28
(Hamas’ daily Felesteen, June 29, 2010).

4. In our assessment, the groups which attack the UNRWA summer camps every year receive their inspiration from Hamas and other Islamist extremist networks operating in the Gaza Strip.  They regard UNRWA as their main competition for the hearts and minds of Gazan youth, in both the formal education system and the informal frameworks such as summer camps. That was why, in the summer of 2009, Hamas conducted a vicious smear campaign against UNRWA and its director, John Ging. Hamas represented them as corrupting the morals of the Palestinian youth through coeducational activities, drugs, dancing and even conducting activities to further reconciliation between the Palestinians and Israel.2

Appendix


Pictures from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad summer camps

Paramilitary training in Hamas summer camps

Safa News Agency, July 31, 2010.
Safa News Agency, July 31, 2010.
  Training with live ammunition (Ynet and Safa News Agency, August 1, 2010).
Training with live ammunition (Ynet and Safa News Agency, August 1, 2010).
Safa News Agency, July 31, 2010
Standing at attention under a banner with Hamas' well-known slogan: "Allah is our goal, [the] messenger [Muhammad] is our role model, the Qur’an is our law, jihad [is our path and death for the sake of Allah is our most exalted hope]" (Safa News Agency, July 31, 2010).
  Safa News Agency, July 31, 2010).
Safa News Agency, July 31, 2010).

Safa News Agency, July 31, 2010
Safa News Agency, July 31, 2010

Palestinian Islamic Jihad summer camps

 Military drills for children at Palestinian Islamic Jihad summer camps
Military drills for children at Palestinian Islamic Jihad summer camps
(Wafa News Agency, July 10, 2010).

Expressions of solidarity with Turkey at Hamas summer camps
(Safa News Agency, July 31, 2010)

Children wearing green Hamas caps drilling with arms; the Turkish and Palestinian flags decorate the courtyard.
Children wearing green Hamas caps drilling with arms; the Turkish and Palestinian flags decorate the courtyard.
  lesson in hand to hand combat
A lesson in hand to hand combat. The banner at the right reads "Death for the sake of Allah is our most exalted hope."
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts. Far right: A drawing expressing solidarity with the violent Turkish flotilla (with the caption "Welcome" above the flag of Turkey).
  Hand to hand combat under the Palestinian and Turkish flags.
Hand to hand combat under the Palestinian and Turkish flags.

Islamic education and indoctrinating Hamas ideology at summer camps (Pictures from gazacamps.ps, the Hamas summer camp website)

Islamic education and indoctrinating Hamas ideology at summer camps
Printed on the shirts at the Hamas summer camps this year: "Al-Aqsa is ours, the prisoners are ours, freedom is assured us."
  Prayers
Prayers
A caricature of the long-nosed, ”evil“ Jew inside a Magen David (Star of David) drawn by one of the children in a camp
A caricature of the long-nosed, "evil" Jew inside a Magen David (Star of David) drawn by one of the children in a camp (Second from the right in the pictures held by the children on the previous page).
  Learning about Al-Aqsa mosque
Learning about Al-Aqsa mosque
Children hold posters of Hamas terrorists imprisoned in Israel.
Children hold posters of Hamas terrorists imprisoned in Israel.
  Girls dance in front of a poster bearing the inscription ”Freedom for the prisoners“
Girls dance in front of a poster bearing the inscription "Freedom for the prisoners" and at the right an picture of a masked Hamas operative pointing a gun can be seen.

1 English.peopledaily.com.cn, June 15, 2010.

2  For further information see the August 17, 2009 bulletin, "Hamas summer camps in the Gaza Strip integrate social activities with political and    Islamic indoctrination and semi-military training.

Additional Bulletins