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memri
July 27, 2016 No.
6545

Wives, Daughters Of Senior Hamas Officials In Gaza Undergo Official Self-Defense And Weapons Training

 The Palestinian Safa news agency has reported that wives of senior Hamas officials have completed a course of self-defense training, including weapons training with handguns and Kalashnikov rifles. The course graduation ceremony took place July 24, 2016, in the Khan Yunis area.

 According to the report, "the head of the security and defense apparatus in the [Gaza] Strip, Gen. Bahjat Abu Sultan, said that his apparatus was tasked with instructing and training members of the various entourages [of [senior officials]... and that this time, the training was intended for [these officials'] inner circle."

The report said that according to Gen. Abu Sultan, the course participants included "daughters [and wives] of officials, ministers, deputy ministers, and security forces commanders [in the Gaza Strip], who were given theoretical and practical instruction, and underwent [field] training as well." The theoretical instruction, he said, dealt with inculcating security awareness regarding the infiltration of possible collaborators with Israel in the ranks of Hamas and regarding the political and social situation in the Gaza Strip, and awareness of the need to protect officials and their homes against damage by the enemy.

Gen. Abu Sultan added, according to the report: "The field training, which was aimed at preparing them to defend themselves [and to cope with] the genuine danger that these officials and their homes will be targeted by the enemies, lasted for 40 hours, over eight days."[1]


Weapons training during the course. (Image:  Facebook.com/5br.3ajel1, July 24, 2016)

The website of the Hamas radio network Sawt Al-Aqsa (Alaqsavoice) noted: "This course has become a pressing social need due to the circumstances, and some 40 daughters and wives of esteemed officials participated in it... The course was conducted under the supervision of female instructors and experts from the security and defense [apparatus]." The website cited two participants' praise for the training: "Young Maryam Al-Bardawil expressed her happiness at the various things she had learned, and called for increasing the number of such courses. Young Khawla Al-Katri praised the course and its content, specifically the weapons training, and said that this had broken the barrier of fear for the participants."[2]


Weapons training during the course (Image:  Facebook.com/5br.3ajel1, July 24, 2016)


(Image: alresalah.ps/ar, July 24, 2016)

The Jerusalem-based Palestinian newspaper Al-Bayader Al-Siyasi reported that according to Gen. Abu Sultan, the training had highlighted the importance of the role of women in all areas of life, and that the security and defense apparatus is also planning a special course for sons of senior officials. The training, he added, was strictly gender-segregated.

Gen. 'Abd Al-Karim Al-Sha'er, director of the instruction department of the security and defense apparatus, explained that the training for the women had included "[Israeli] methods of causing [Palestinians to collaborate with Israel] and how to protect oneself from them; securing houses; cyber-security; dealing with suspicious objects; psychological warfare; first aid; weapon assembly, disassembly, and use; [and] visiting an exhibit of various explosive devices in order to recognize suspicious objects and different types of explosives."[3]


Visiting an explosive device exhibit (Image: Spf.moi.gov.ps, July 21, 2016)

Reports on the special course for the wives and daughters of Hamas officials, as well as photos of the course activities, appeared also on social media, such as the "Breaking News from Gaza" Facebook page. [4]  The reports sparked mocking responses from many users, especially from Gazans.  They condemned the discrimination against various echelons of Palestinian society and demanded that their own wives and daughters receive the same training, and that it not be restricted to the wives and daughters of senior Hamas officials. The following are some examples of responses by Gazans:

Nadia Abu Sha'ban wrote: "That's ok, the one to blame is my father. Had he become an official, my mother would have been taking a firearms course right now."[5]


Nadia's post

Asmahan Omar replied: "I have no words. It really is a joke. Allah help us."[6]

Other users also stressed the discriminatory character of the course and expressed anger at Hamas. Lamiaa 'Awad wrote: "When they got rich and became [important] people, they [felt the] need to defend themselves, and the rest of the people can go to hell..."[7]


Lamiaa' s post

Mohamed Rajab wrote: "And the rest of the people are sons of dogs that do not have the right to defend themselves or carry arms. The lives of the officials' wives and daughters are dear to them, while our lives are cheap. Damn the officials. They are the ones who have brought disaster upon the country. They live in comfort while the people curse [the day they were born]..."[8] Zaki Bolbol from Gaza wrote: "Why only the officials' wives and daughters? I hope you don't say it's because they are preparing for [an attack by] the Jews, because when the moment comes we will not find any of them aboveground. They will go underground and leave the people to die. After the war they will come out of their holes, shoot [in the air] and chant victory slogans..."[9]

 

Endnotes:

 

[1] Safa.ps, July 24, 2016.

[2] Alaqsavoice.ps, July 24, 2016.

[3] Al-Bayader Al-Siyasi (Jerusalem), July 24, 2016.

[4] Facebook.com/5br.3ajel1, July 24, 2016.

[5] Facebook.com/nadia.abushaban122, July 25, 2016.

[6] Facebook.com/asmahan.omar.16, July 25, 2016.

[7] Facebook.com/lamiaa22, July 25, 2016.  

[8] Facebook.com/5br.3ajel1,  July 24, 2016.

[9] Facebook.com/5br.3ajel1, July 24, 2016.