Gazan youths carry out training exercises.
Ahmed al-Ra'i, the camps' spokesman. Behind him are youths marching in file (Facebook page of the al-Quds al-Yawm channel, August 15, 2020).
This summer the mobilization unit of the PIJ’s military wing held its annual summer camps for youths in the Gaza Strip, despite dealing with the fight against coronavirus infection. This year the camps were called the “al-amin (“the secretary”) camps,” in memory of Ramadan Abdallah Shalah, the PIJ secretary general who died on June 6, 2020. According to a report, the youths acquired paramilitary skills and heard lectures on security and “educational” topics. Ahmed al-Ra’i, spokesman for the camps, said the camps’ objective is to train the youths in military skills and inculcate them with the “principles of resistance and jihad” (Facebook page of the PIJ-affiliated al-Quds al-Yawm channel, August 15, 2020). The summer camps have great importance for the PIJ because the youths who attend them are considered the next generation of military wing operatives.
Right: Gazan youths carry out training exercises. Left: Ahmed al-Ra’i, the camps’ spokesman. Behind him are youths marching in file (Facebook page of the al-Quds al-Yawm channel, August 15, 2020).
The Importance of the Summer Camps
- A report was recently shown on the PIJ-affiliated al-Quds al-Ra’i channel about the annual summer camps the organization holds for Gazan youth. The report appeared on August 15, 2020, after the beginning of the school year, thus the camps were apparently held during the summer vacation despite the Covid-19 crisis. The ITIC has no information about similar activities carried out by Hamas this year, which customarily also holds annual summer camps.
- For the past several years thousands of Palestinian youths have participated in PIJ and Hamas summer camp programs, where they enjoy ordinary summer camp leisure activities combined with radical Islamist ideological indoctrination and paramilitary training. In previous years Hamas and the PIJ increased the scope of their camps’ activities because UNRWA’s budget constraints prevented the agency from holding its own camps. Apparently this year Hamas did not run camps because it was dealing with Covid-19, while the PIJ had no such concerns.
- The camps have great importance for Hamas and the PIJ. They usually name them for organization shaheeds or events that shaped Palestinian history or the history of the terrorist organizations. While at the camps the youths undergo paramilitary training, sometimes with military wing operatives as instructors. Their ideological indoctrination includes the inculcation of the so-called “right of return” of the Palestinian refugees, the willingness to die for the sake of Allah ( the shahada), the “liberation of all Palestine” through “resistance” (i.e., the destruction of the State of Israel) and the inculcation of radical Islam. Hamas and the PIJ regard Palestinian youth who attend their summer camps as the next generation of military wing operatives.
- Pictures published of a PIJ 2020 summer camp show relatively older youths, in uniform and undergoing military training: