Hamas and the other terrorist organizations summer camps in the Gaza Strip

Issued on: 30/07/2012 Type: Article

1. As in years past, this year as well summer camps were held for the children of the Gaza Strip. Most of them were organized by the de-facto Hamas administration, with a few organized by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other organizations. This year an estimated 100,000 children attended summer camps.

2. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip consider the summer camps an important means of fostering its next generation of operatives and supporters, and as a way to brainwash the younger generation with their ideologies, oriented towards radical political Islam. The main themes are the so-called "liberation" of Palestine and the annihilation of the State of Israel, the path of jihad (the so-called "culture of resistance"), the cult of the shaheeds and other themes taken from Hamas' strategies in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The camps are often visited by senior figures from Hamas and the other terrorist organizations which support the inculcation of Gazan youth with political Islam.

3. As far as we know, as opposed to previous years, this year there were no camps run by UNRWA. More than 200,000 children participated in UNRWA summer camps in previous years (more than in the camps run by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations put together). UNRWA sources said the camps were cancelled because of the agency's budget deficit. However, in our assessment, there may have been other reasons, such as the constant competition between Hamas and UNRWA for camp enrollment, Hamas' criticism in the past that the UNRWA camps' curriculum "corrupted" Gazan youth, and the physical attacks waged on the UNRWA camps by Islamist elements.[1] By not holding summer camps this year, UNRWA left the field open to the terrorist and other radical Islamic organizations, especially Hamas.

Summer camp logos. Left: The Palestinian Islamic Jihad's camp logo, with the slogan "A message of victory." Right: The Hamas camp logo, with the slogan "We will live with our heads held high."
Summer camp logos. Left: The Palestinian Islamic Jihad's camp logo, with the slogan "A message of victory." Right: The Hamas camp logo, with the slogan "We will live with our heads held high."

Hamas Summer Camps

4. On June 9, 2012, Hamas summer camps opened with an estimated 70,000 registered campers. The slogan for most of them was "We will live with our heads held high," which accompanied the hunger strikes of the Palestinian terrorist operatives in Israeli jails. According to Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, the slogan marks one of milestones in the struggle for the restoration of the so-called "Palestinians' rights," the most recent of which was the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike (Safa News Agency, June 21, 2012). Azzam Wissam, director of Hamas summer camps in the northern Gaza Strip, said that the slogan was meant to emphasize the importance of the issue of prisoners held in Israeli jails.

5. The campers engaged in the following types of activities:

1) Identification with the prisoners: The children created a "human chain," gave presentations illustrating the so-called "tortures" undergone by the prisoners and put on other shows.

2) Paramilitary activities: Some of the camps had paramilitary training, in which the children crawled as if under barbed wire, stood in military formation and had rifle practice. In some instances the campers wore uniforms.

3) Ideological brainwashing: The campers were indoctrinated with the ideology of armed "resistance" [i.e., terrorism] against Israel. They chanted slogans such as "One hand holds a pen and the other a rifle..." "...one hand studies and the other fights Israel..." (Filastin al-'Aan, July 12, 2012).

4) Inculcating Islam though camps held for Qur'an memorization: Several thousand children participated in Qur'an camps held under the aegis of the ministry for religious endowment of the de-facto Hamas administration, and the Dar al-Qur'an wal-Sunna Association. At a ceremony held to announce the opening of Hamas' summer camps, Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration, gave $50,000 to fund them, saying that he would give more to "prepare the army that would liberate Al-Aqsa in the coming years."

Left: Senior Hamas figures, among them Fathi Hamad (fourth from left), minister of the interior in the de-facto Hamas administration, visit a camp for Qur'an memorization (Safa News Agency, June, 2012). Right: Girls in a summer camp memorize the Qur'an (Picture from the paltimes.net website, June 12, 2012).
Left: Senior Hamas figures, among them Fathi Hamad (fourth from left), minister of the interior in the de-facto Hamas administration, visit a camp for Qur'an memorization (Safa News Agency, June, 2012). Right: Girls in a summer camp memorize the Qur'an (Picture from the paltimes.net website, June 12, 2012).

6. Muhammad Abu Askar, senior Hamas figure and one of the organizers of the summer camps in Jabaliya, said that the objective of the camps was to bring up a generation of gun-carrying young men and to inculcate them with love of the homeland and Islam as a way of life so that they would eventually participate in "the Palestinian liberation army." Mustafa al-Soaf, a political commentator affiliated with Hamas, said that the summer camps were "preparation for the day of victory" (Fajar website, June 10 2012). Senior Hamas figures visited the camps and met with campers. Ismail Haniya met with children attending the camp in the Shati refugee camp, and said that "the hour victory is getting closer and closer," adding that the current generation of children will "[live to] see victory and liberation" (Safa News Agency, June 12, 2012).

[1] For further information on Hamas summer camps see the August 7, 2011 bulletin "This year’s summer camps in the Gaza Strip were once again used by Hamas and its military wing to combine social activity with Islamicand political indoctrination and paramilitary training."

Additional Bulletins