Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades gives 25,000 residents military training; Islamist group is militarizing Palestinian society, human rights activists say
The Times of Israel (Aug 10) — Palestinian youths — many of them minors — and older residents of Gaza graduated late last week from what Hamas termed a “summer camp” in the Palestinian enclave.
In the camp, the youths learned skills ranging from traipsing down buildings to launching shoulder-fired missiles. According to AFP, during the camp some 25,000 Palestinians took part in combat training. The youngest were as young as 15; the oldest trainees are 60-years-old.
“The goal of these military training camps is to train the vanguard for liberation — spiritually, intellectually and physically — to be ready and able to play its role in liberation,” said a statement by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing in late July, when the camp opened.
Hamas has long run summer camps devoted to sport and study of the Koran in Gaza but over the winter the al-Qassam brigades launched a new kind of camp, giving military training to 15 to 20-year-olds.
Human rights activists condemned it as a forced militarization of Gazan society and a violation of children’s rights.