Hamas summer camps!
Fun, fun, fun in Gaza...
1. In June-August 2011, as they do every year, the Hamas administration and military wing ran summer camps in the Gaza Strip. Registration for the summer camps was held mostly in mosques. The slogans for the Hamas summer camps this time were “Victory through youth” and “Camps of return” (Felesteen al-Yoom, June 12, 2011; Chinese News Agency, June 19, 2011). Tens of thousands of children and adolescents from elementary school age to high school age took part in the summer activities. As in previous years, in addition to social activities the camps also offered Quran lessons, indoctrination with Hamas’ political ideology, and paramilitary training.
2. Hamas and other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip regard the summer camps as a means for inculcating their ideological values and nurturing the next generation of operatives and supporters. The core values are radical Islam, “the liberation of Palestine”, jihad and death for the sake of Allah, and other messages drawn from Hamas’ ideology and strategy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (e.g., support for the “right of return”, demand to free all Palestinian (terrorist) prisoners, the “liberation” of Palestine from Israel, and indoctrination of hatred against Israel and the Jewish people). The summer camps are often visited by top Hamas officials who help spread the political messages among the youngsters.
3. This year as well UNRWA operated an alternative summer camp system that hosted 250,000 Gaza Strip children (far more than the Hamas summer camps). The UNRWA summer camps emphasize social activity and promotion of such universal values as peace and coexistence, without the political-religious indoctrination and paramilitary training prevalent in Hamas’ camps. Consequently, these summer camps were once again harassed by radical Islamic elements that consider them competitors for the hearts and minds of the younger generation; also, UNRWA’s summer camps are accused of “corrupting” Palestinian children and adolescents.