Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, as well as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have opened registration recently for their annual summer camps for Gaza youth, where children as young as nine are trained in marksmanship, kidnapping, and tunnel warfare, as they’re encouraged to become next-generation terrorists.
This summer’s camps, which begin on Tuesday and are designed for young primary school students as well as college- and even post-college age Gaza residents, are dubbed “Sword of Jerusalem,” after Hamas’ recent conflict with the Jewish state, which began after the U.S.-designated terror group launched over 4,000 rockets at civilian population centers throughout the Jewish state last month.
Many camps carry anti-Israel themes and are named after terrorists who murdered Israelis in the past.
According to Hamas’ Telegram channel, the camps aim to “fan the flames of jihad [Islamic holy war] among the generation of liberation, instill Islamic values, and prepare the long-awaited army for the liberation of Palestine.”
In a promotional video for the camp, teens are seen using simulators to attack Israeli forces and civilians with various weapons, including rifles, missile launchers, and drones:
Hamas “Pioneers of Liberation” Summer Camps Promotional Video: Teen Campers Use Simulators to Practice Sniper Shooting and Anti-Tank Missile Launching #Hamas #Gaza #terrorists #child_indoctrination pic.twitter.com/LuazaeQln0
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) June 27, 2021
In another clip, children are seen enduring more intense military training:
— Elder of Ziyon 🇱 (@elderofziyon) June 27, 2021
In addition to sports and games, the camps seek to instill extremist Islamic ideology of jihad, martyrdom, and glorification of terror, while teaching a wide range of military and combat skills, including knife and firearm training.
In an attempt to market its terror training camps for Gaza youth to a Western audience, a spokesman for the terror group explained the camp’s goals in English, including the teaching of Islamic principles and “faith in Allah,” as well as preparing the youth for “liberation” of their land from Israel, while providing them with “basic military training and light weapons skills.”
He also praised the Palestinian youth, who he described as having “always been the fuel of uprisings and protests, such as the first intifada, the great victory march, and the latest demonstration at the Al-Aqsa mosque.”
The terrorist-designated Islamic Jihad is also running camps for teens this summer, offering field trips and activities such as painting and Quran memorization, in addition to intensive activities at military sites.
Tawfiq Qanita, Head of Indoctrination at Palestinian Islamic Jihad on Upcoming Summer Camps for 14-17 Year-Olds: They Seek to Become Martyrs, Liberate Their Country, Will Accept Nothing but the Demise of the Jews, Demise of Israel #Antisemitism #Islamic_Jihad #Gaza pic.twitter.com/RfSrE4m6pa
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) June 24, 2021
According to Tawfiq Qanita, who heads the group’s indoctrination department, young teens are specifically chosen for their future roles.
“We specifically chose this age group of 14- to 17-year-old children, because this is the age group that we count on to be the commanders of tomorrow,” he said.
“This age group needs indoctrination in the fields of security, culture, and ideology. They also need physical and military fitness,” he added.
In one clip, young Palestinians attending the camp are seen simulating the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier:
Palestinian Islamic Jihad military summer camp appears to show #Gaza youth training on capturing an IDF soldier. On a side note, there are children that appear younger than 12 years old in this film, which suggests the group is training preparatory aged children. pic.twitter.com/UoNjAileCD
— Joe Truzman (@Jtruzmah) June 28, 2021
Qanita also explained the message such camps send to the Jewish state and Jews everywhere.
This is why we say to the Zionist enemy: You are facing a generation that will not accept the ’67 or ’68 (borders), and not even the ’48 (borders). They will accept nothing less than Palestine in its entirety. They will accept nothing less than the demise of all the Jews, the demise of Israel. This is what they strive for. This is what they want. This is this generation’s goal.
Since taking control of Gaza, Hamas — as well as the Islamic Jihad — has engaged in intense indoctrination aimed at imbuing Palestinians with its extremist ideology, with the summer camps being one of the most effective ways of doing so.
Every year, tens of thousands of Palestinian children and teens attend such camps.
Over the last few days, videos of Hamas gunmen appealing to Palestinians to send their children to their summer camps appeared on multiple social media platforms, as photos of dozens of Palestinian children registering for the camps appeared throughout Palestinian media outlets.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein