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memri
August 29, 2017 No.
1335

2017 Summer Camps In The Palestinian Authority – Part II: Military Training, Glorification Of 'Martyrs' At Camps Held By Fatah And National Security Forces

By: B. Chernitsky and S. Schneidmann*

This past summer, Fatah held summer camps for children and youth, each lasting several days, in cooperation with various Palestinian Authority (PA) security apparatuses. Some of these camps were held in bases of the PA's National Security Forces (NSF) in the West Bank, and were military in character; they included physical training and marches, as well as training in weapons assembly and disassembly, and the campers wore military-style uniforms.

In other camps participants wore civilian clothing, but they too included activities in cooperation with the security forces, in addition to political content such as the glorification of "martyrs" like Dalal Al-Mughrabi – deputy commander of the March 11, 1978 Coastal Road massacre, in which 35 Israelis were killed and 71 were injured – who is often singled out for praise by Fatah and the PA, especially on the anniversary of her death.[1]

The camps also included activities about the right of return and Jerusalem. The importance accorded to these themes was apparent in the names of the camps, such as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs camp, the Al-Aqsa Guardians camp and the Al-Aqsa Pioneers camp.

Similar content also stood out at the summer camps organized by the PLO's Higher Council for Youth and Sports in cooperation with the NSF, which were discussed in Part I of this series. Last month MEMRI also published a report on summer camps organized by Hamas

The following are details about the camps organized by Fatah and the NSF.

Military Activities At Fatah-NSF Summer Camps

Several Fatah-NSF summer camps, in which thousands of children and youths participated, had a distinctly military character, expressed in campers wearing military-style uniforms, holding marches, and training with real weapons and dummy rifles. According to statements delivered by Fatah's secretary general in the Salfit area, 'Abd Al-Sattar 'Awwad, at the concluding ceremony of the Al-Aqsa Pioneers camp, organized by Fatah's branch in Salfit and the NSF in Jenin, this camp and other training camps are part of an ongoing program for shaping the younger generation, which is tasked with "realizing the Palestinian dream of establishing a Palestinian state and ending the occupation."[2]


Fatah Secretary General 'Abd Al-Sattar 'Awwad at the concluding ceremony of the Al-Aqsa Pioneers summer camp (facebook.com/fateh.salfeet, August 1, 2017)

At the Al-Aqsa Guardians camp, attended by youth from the Kalandia refugee camp and held at the NSF base in Jericho, campers were taught how to dissemble and handle various weapons.[3]

Photographs On Social Media: Campers In Military Uniform Train With Weapons, Participate In Other Military-Style Activities

Various social media accounts, including those identified with Fatah as well as private accounts, posted many  photos showing campers in uniform and handling real and dummy weapons. The following are some examples:

Weapons Lesson At The Al-Aqsa Guardians Camp

Source: facebook.com/abrahim.zeko, August 2, 2017


Source: facebook.com/kalandiamediacenter, August 1, 2017


Source: facebook.com/daymomah.agency (a Fatah-affiliated account)

Campers Riding NSF Vehicles And Rappelling At An NSF Base In Jericho Area


Source: facebook.com/1842350972716537, August 2, 2017

Participants In Uniform Train With Dummy Weapons At NSF Summer Camp In Jericho


Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1750214311937587, July 19, 2017


Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1750214311937587, July 19, 2017

Al-Aqsa Pioneers March In Formation; In Background Is Photo Of Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas


Source: facebook.com/radiozytona, August 9, 2017

Veneration Of Coastal Massacre Terrorist Dalal Al-Mughrabi At Fatah Camps

As stated, some of the camps organized by Fatah were more civilian in character, but these too included activities in cooperation with the PA security forces, as well as messages glorifying martyrs. At a Fatah camp in the Al-'Aroub refugee camp north of Hebron, during a ceremony attended by Fatah Central Committee member 'Abbas Zaki, a camper held up a banner bearing a picture of Dalal Al-Mughrabi, the deputy commander of the Coastal Road massacre.[4]

A photo taken at a Fatah camp in Salfit shows a mural of Dalal Al-Mughrabi on one of the walls:[5]

Other camps also held activities related to the martyrs. Participants in Fatah's Jerusalem Martyrs camp in the Bethlehem District recited the Fatiha[6] over the graves of martyrs in the village of Artas.[7]


Participants in Fatah's Jerusalem Martyrs camp read the Fatiha over the graves of martyrs in the village of Artas

Activities Related To Right Of Return

The right of return was another important theme at the camps. A photo taken at Fatah's Al-'Asifa[8] Pioneers camp in the Al-'Aroub refugee camp, attended by 500 Fatah youths, shows a banner declaring: "The Right of Return Is a Red Line. It Cannot Be Disregarded or Relinquished."[9]


Banner at Fatah camp in Al-'Aroub: "The Right of Return Is a Red Line. It Cannot Be Disregarded or Relinquished"


Young children in Fatah camp in Al-'Aroub

Certificate Of Participant In Fatah-NSF 'Freedom And Victory' Camp

At the conclusion of the camps held by Fatah in cooperation with the NSF, participants received a certificate signed by both these bodies. Majed Mosallam, who took part in the Freedom and Victory camp at the Jenin District NSF base on July 20-22, shared his certificate on Facebook. The certificate is signed by the NSF commander in the Jenin area, Colonel Khatir 'Amr, and by the secretary-general of Fatah's branch in the Nablus District, Jihad Ramadan.[10]


Majed Mosallam's certificate


Camp graduates hold up their certificates (source: facebook.com/radiozytona, August 9, 2017)
 

* B. Chernitsky and S. Schneidmann are research fellows at MEMRI.

 


[2] Fatehwatan.ps  ,August 1, 2017.

[3] Facebook.com/abrahim.zeko, August 2, 2017.

[4] Facebook.com/337638652954832, August 9, 2017.

[5] Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, August 6, 2017.

[6] The first surah of the Quran, read out at various occasions, including at funerals and memorial ceremonies.

[7] Facebook.com/iqlimfateh, July 30, 2017.

[8] Al-'Asifa was the name of Fatah's military branch in 1965-1982.

[9] Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, August 7, 2017.

[10] Facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=514995858841557, August 2, 2017.