The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) recently released a report on summer camps run by Hamas’ ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades as part of its indoctrination program targeting children. The camps, intended for various age groups, from junior high school students to university students, are called “Sword of Jerusalem,” which is the name given by Hamas to the latest round of fighting with Israel in May 2021 and are being advertised under the motto, “”Today at the training camps, tomorrow at the gates of Jerusalem.”
For over ten years, Hamas’s camps for children, teens and young people have served as a tool for inculcating the organization’s extremist religious ideology of jihad, martyrdom and the glorification of terror and terrorists,” MEMRI reported. “Attended by hundreds of thousands of participants every year, the camps cultivate a “spirit of resistance” and instill a commitment to uncompromising armed struggle against Israel aimed at liberating Palestine from the river to the sea, while also teaching a wide range of military and combat skills. Many of them are named after terrorists who carried out armed operations against Israelis, and are devoted to themes such as “the generation of return” (referring to the right of return) and “marching on Jerusalem.”
In addition to Quran lessons, sports activities, games and entertainment, the camps offer extensive military indoctrination and activities, often carried out by members of Hamas’s military wing, the ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. These activities include training with knives and firearms (in some cases with live ammunition); hand-to-hand combat; marching and foot drills, and tunnel combat. Campers also stage plays and enact scenes of fighting and capturing Israeli soldiers or firing rockets into Israel. Many activities are themed around the liberation of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, or deal with commemorating and glorifying terrorists.
Hamas officials, who visit the camps and attend their opening and graduation ceremonies, explain that the goal of the camps is to cultivate a generation raised upon the values of jihad and self-sacrifice, which will liberate all of Palestine and uproot the occupation.
Unlike normal summer camps, the Hamas camps engage in weapons training, hand-to-hand combat, close-order drills, and “tunnel combat” activities. This includes enacting mock battles which are also features of the “graduation ceremonies”.
“In Hamas and Islamic Jihad summer camps for teens in Gaza, campers undergo military-style training, simulated target practice, and foot drill. Al-Manar TV aired a report about the camps on June 27, 2021, in which teens are shown during military-style training in Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades “Pioneers of Liberation” summer camp. Al-Manar’s reporter said that the participants in the camp receive training in various military fields and various weapons. One of the campers told Al-Manar TV that he joined the summer camp in order to continue the path of his father, the “martyred commander.” The report also featured footage from military training in Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades “Sword of Jerusalem” summer camp. In a video, posted on June 27 on Al-Qassam’s website, children chant: “Put sword against sword. We are Muhammad Deif’s men!” They also spell out the words “Sword of Jerusalem” during foot drill. in a video posted on Amad Media on YouTube, June 26, 2021 Abu Obaida, the commander of the “Pioneers of Liberation” summer camp in Eastern Gaza, dressed in full military gear, said that the purpose of the camp is to instill the concept of trust in Allah and national and Islamic values in the hearts of the campers. He added: “We also aim to protect them from the traps that the enemy is trying to set for them.”