As in years past, this year as well summer camps were held for the children of the Gaza Strip. Most of them were organized by the de-facto Hamas administration, with a few organized by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other organizations. This year an estimated 100,000 children attended summer camps.
Hamas and the other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip consider the summer camps an important means of fostering its next generation of operatives and supporters, and as a way to brainwash the younger generation with their ideologies, oriented towards radical political Islam. The main themes are the so-called "liberation" of Palestine and the annihilation of the State of Israel, the path of jihad (the so-called "culture of resistance"), the cult of the shaheeds and other themes taken from Hamas' strategies in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The camps are often visited by senior figures from Hamas and the other terrorist organizations which support the inculcation of Gazan youth with political Islam.
On June 9, 2012, Hamas summer camps opened with an estimated 70,000 registered campers.
The campers engaged in the following types of activities:
1) Identification with the Palestinian prisoners in Israel: The children created a "human chain," gave presentations illustrating the so-called "tortures" undergone by the prisoners and put on other shows.
2) Paramilitary activities: Some of the camps had paramilitary training, in which the children crawled as if under barbed wire, stood in military formation and had rifle practice. In some instances the campers wore uniforms.
3) Ideological brainwashing: The campers were indoctrinated with the ideology of armed "resistance" [i.e., terrorism] against Israel. They chanted slogans such as "One hand holds a pen and the other a rifle..." "...one hand studies and the other fights Israel..." (Filastin al-'Aan, July 12, 2012).
Muhammad Abu Askar, senior Hamas figure and one of the organizers of the summer camps in Jabaliya, said that the objective of the camps was to bring up a generation of gun-carrying young men and to inculcate them with love of the homeland and Islam as a way of life so that they would eventually participate in "the Palestinian liberation army." Mustafa al-Soaf, a political commentator affiliated with Hamas, said that the summer camps were "preparation for the day of victory" (Fajar website, June 10 2012).
Senior Hamas figures visited the camps and met with campers. Ismail Haniya met with children attending the camp in the Shati refugee camp, and said that "the hour victory is getting closer and closer," adding that the current generation of children will "[live to] see victory and liberation" (Safa News Agency, June 12, 2012).