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February 3, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 5951

Youth Camps In Gaza Train Soldiers For Future Popular Army

February 3, 2015
Palestine, Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 5951

On January 20-27, 2015, Hamas's military branch, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, held military training camps for some 17,000 youths aged 15-21. According to a Hamas-affiliated website (palinfo.com), the camps, called "Talai' Al-Tahrir" (Pioneers of Liberation), were "extremely popular", and the movement therefore had to hold both morning and afternoon camps.[1] The camp activities, attended by Hamas officials, included training with live ammunition. The purpose of the enterprise is to form the core of a popular army comprising members from all sectors of society, and to prepare the teens, ideologically and militarily, for jihad and for the struggle with Israel. Youths who participated in the camps declared that they had come to learn how to kidnap Israeli soldiers and liberate Jerusalem.

The following are details about the camps and statements about them from Hamas officials.


Poster announcing the camps (Facebook.com/camps.gaza?fref=photo, January 10, 2015) 

Hamas Officials: The Youths Trained At The Camps Will Fire The Rockets In The Next Campaign And Liberate Palestine

At the camp's closing ceremony, held on January 27, 2015, Isma'il Haniya, deputy head of Hamas's political bureau, said: "The people's rallying around the resistance will foil all of [Israel's] plans to harm the image of Hamas and of the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades... The Al-Qassam Brigades' camps are a strategic enterprise [aimed at] raising the generation of victory and liberation. Resistance and preparations for bearing arms against the enemy are no longer optional, but have become a culture embraced not only by Hamas, but by every Palestinian home and every Palestinian sector." Haniya emphasized that the main message is that Hamas wishes to convey with these camps is that it "cares for all popular strata, so they will be fully prepared for defending Palestinian soil and the Palestinian people."[2]


Haniya and other senior Hamas officials at camps' closing ceremony (Facebook.com/camps.gaza/photos, January 29, 2015)

Hamas political bureau member Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said at the ceremony: "The young graduates of the 'Pioneers of Liberation' camps will [fire] the rockets in the next campaign for liberation."[3]


Poster announcing the camps' closing ceremony (Facebook.com/camps.gaza/photos, January 29, 2015)

He added: "We pledge not to withhold anything from you - not our weapons, not our money, not our efforts, and not our sweat. Generation by generation - and I don't mean every decade One class after another, one year after the other, whenever there is a school holiday, you will be on the military training grounds, until we accomplish our goal."

He added: "Every year until Palestine is liberated, thousands will join the training camps, so will they arrive in the occupied West Bank [already] prepared. The phenomenon of the generation of liberation is not a fleeting one, but is rooted in reality. Perhaps tomorrow, they will be standing behind the rockets, firing them at every inch of Palestine in the war of Judgment Day - the war for the liberation of Palestine. The youth of liberation are the near future generation that will fire rockets at the Zionists in the next liberation campaign against the [Zionist] entity...[4]

Hamas political bureau member Khalil Al-Haya, who also spoke at the closing ceremony, called for "uniting the ummah's guns and strength against Israel, its major enemy..."[5]

Al-Haya said further: "All guns and efforts must be trained on the enemy, and all the banners must unite under a single banner against the occupation, in order to realize our final goal of bringing it to an end The Pioneers of Liberation are a clear message from the Al-Qassam Brigades, indicating that resistance activity will continue until complete liberation [is achieved]". Al-Haya emphasized that Hamas is continuing to train the next generations "despite the difficulties and obstacles that the resistance faces, namely the siege, and restrictions a regional and international level We say to the world that we are preparing this generation to contend with the enemy in the future..."[6]

MEMRI TV Clip No. 4757, Thousands of Gaza Youth Train at Hamas Military Wing Camp, shows footage from January 2015 of a youth camp organized by the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. The footage features young cadets demonstrating military skills such as the use of weapons, and simulating the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. It also includes the above statements by Mahmoud Al-Zahhar. The footage is from Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV and various online sources:

Inculcating Values Of Jihad And Resistance

A Hamas website, which covered the training in one of the camps, wrote: "The young [participants] at one of the Al-Qassam Brigades camps held a military parade and performed close-order drills. Their voices thundered as they called 'Allahu Akbar' [God is great], to foster a spirit of enthusiasm and determination in the camp. This is [but] one of dozens of camps held in the Gaza Strip. The enterprise, overseen by the Al-Qassam Brigades, is intended to reinforce the inculcation of jihad, instill values of resistance, and deepen the sense of patriotism and attachment to the homeland in the young peoples' hearts.[7]


A child wearing a Hamas bandana sits among armed Hamas fighters (Palinfo.com January 27, 2015)


Pioneers of Liberation poster features quote from the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yasin: Our strength is in jihad, our strength is in fighting and martyrdom; surrender is the road to humiliation" (Facebook.com/camps.gaza/photo, January 20, 2015)


Pioneers of Liberation poster features image of Palestine from the river to the sea, with rifle and Koran, and the slogan: "Oh the youth of truth, seek the answer in Allah; if we work for the sake of the religion, victory will soon arrive" (Facebook.com/camps.gaza/photos, January 29, 2015)

Al-Qassam Brigades Commander: We Are Preparing A Liberation Army Of Thousands

The Al-Qassam Brigades advertised the camps in mosques, public places and on its official website. Registration was carried out at stands on the Gaza streets which bore signs saying "The core of the next liberation army" and were manned by masked fighters.


Registration stand for the training camps (Facebook.com/camps.gaza/photos, January 18, 2015)

An Al-Qassam Brigades commander said that the Brigades were recruiting as many teens as possible so they could acquire military skills, train with live ammunition and practice civil defense and first aid. He added, "The Al-Qassam Brigades are working to prepare a liberation army comprising thousands and predicated upon Islamic education."[8]

Training With Live Ammunition


Facebook.com/camps.gaza/photos, January 25, 2015


Facebook.com/camps.gaza/photos, January 29, 2015


Facebook.com/camps.gaza/photos, January 29, 2015


Facebook.com/QudsN/photos, January 28, 2015


Facebook.com/camps.gaza/photos, January 27, 2015


Facebook.com/camps.gaza/photos, January 27, 2015

Training Camp Participants: We Want To Kidnap Soldiers, Liberate Jerusalem And Return To Jaffa

Campers said they wanted to learn how to kidnap soldiers, join the commando and realize the right of return. Muhammad (17) from the Nuseirat refugee camp said: "Resistance is our pride and strength. I joined the camp to become part of the elite youth of the Al-Qassam Brigades and kidnap Zionist soldiers in order to liberate my cousin from the occupation's prisons." Ahmad Al-Hosni (19) said: "I joined the camps in order to become a soldier in the Palestinian liberation army, and therefore I want to train with every kind of weapon and military equipment. I am an excellent swimmer and will ask the camp administration to join the naval commandoes." He added that he dreams of diving in the sea "until he reaches the shores of Jaffa."[9]

Another camper, 'Amar Hamdan, said: "We love the resistance and the Al-Qassam Brigades, and we are training to be part of the liberation army. We will liberate Jerusalem and the prisoners."[10]


Training in the use of tunnels (Facebook.com/camps.gaza/photos, January 27, 2015)

 

Endnotes:

[1] Palinfo.com, January 23, 2015.

[2] Palinfo.com, January 27, 2015.

[3] Palinfo.com, January 29, 2015.

[4] Al-Resalah (Gaza), January 29, 2015. See MEMRI TV Clip no. 4757, "Thousands of Gaza Youth Train at Hamas Military Wing Camp," January 2015.

[5] Maannews.net, January 29, 2015.

[6] Al-Resalah (Gaza), January 29, 2015.

[7] Palinfo.com, January 23, 2015.

[8] Noonpost.net, January 22, 2015.

[9] Noonpost.net, January 22, 2015.

[10] Palinfo.com, January 23, 2015.

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