Raising child soldiers
Hamas Child Soldiers Graduate from 'Summer Camp'

Military drills, weapons training and rockets - Hamas celebrates next generation of terrorists at summer camp graduation.

Ari Soffer ,

Hamas child recruits
Hamas child recruits

At a time when children in Israel and throughout much of the world are on vacation, often attending summer camps with their friends, Hamas authorities in Gaza have been running an altogether different program.

The "Liberation Youth" military training camp in Gaza City trains young Palestinian Arabs to become the next generation of terrorists, instructing them in close combat, assault and light weapons training and more.

On Wednesday, thousands of Palestinian youths celebrated their graduation with a military parade.


Youths leaped through burning hoops and performed military drills in a style often used in jihadist recruitment materials.


The ceremony was presided over by leading Hamas officials including Ismail Haniyeh (center) and Mahmoud al-Zahar (L).


Hamas, an offshoot of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood organization - is a proscribed terrorist group in most countries. 

Child sniper at Hamas training camp Reuters

Its charter calls for both the destruction of the State of Israel and the ultimate annihilation of the Jewish people.

Training the next generation of terrorists at Hamas summer camp Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

The parade also featured some of Hamas's extensive rocket arsenal, which it regularly used to target Israeli population centers until last summer, when Israel's Operation Protective Edge offensive inflicted heavy casualties on the group and wiped out most of its rockets and "terror tunnels" leading into Israel.

Hamas terrorists display rockets at summer camp graduation Reuters

A tense ceasefire has held since then, punctuated by several instances of rocket fire from rival Islamist terror groups such as Islamic Jihad and cells associated with ISIS.

Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

The ceremony also featured a display gloating over the continued captivity of two Israeli citizens, including Avraham Mengistu, a mentally ill young man kidnapped and held by Hamas for nearly a year. The large black box represented the "cell" they are being held in, while the two question marks refer to Mengistu and the second captive, an Israeli-Arab from the Negev.

Speaking at the ceremony, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar vowed his group would launch terrorist attacks if Israel did not lift its blockade of Gaza, which aims to stem the flow of deadly weapons in the territory. "Today, our message to the occupier is very clear: We will not accept a blockade," he said.

25,000 child recruits have graduated from the camp this summer.

Zahar urged the graduating child soldiers to carry out attacks themselves.

"Break the siege because we will not be able to hold back those who want to defend their territory from those who have destroyed their homes and killed their children," he said. 


The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's so- called “military wing”, said participants at the camp spent two weeks being "trained in military techniques and in firing live ammunition" as well as "first aid and rescue techniques".

Using child soldiers is illegal under international law, and human rights groups have condemned Hamas for its widespread use of child recruits. Young participants ranged in age from 15-20 years old, according to reports, but some appeared younger still.


Hamas also raised the upper age limit for "camp" participants to 60, enabling many more elderly Gazans to take part as well.