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Hamas’ Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, had ordered his education minister to establish a full-time military college to open next September.
In the meantime more than 3,000 Palestinian teenagers on Thursday graduated from the ruling Hamas militant group’s first high school military training program in the Gaza Strip, displaying mock weapons, crawling commando-style on the ground and taking up fighting positions for thousands of cheering supporters.
Hamas officials said the Futuwwa, or “Youth,” program is aimed at fostering a new generation of leaders in the struggle against Israel.
The program is a weekly elective that is offered in all Gaza high schools. Officials said 3,600 participated in the first session, which began in September.
During the one-hour session each week, students were taught to climb down buildings on ropes, jump through obstacle courses and crawl under barbed wire. The oldest students are trained to use light weapons, while younger ones train with wooden rifles. Each participant is assigned to a security officer who oversees their training.
Each year 30.000 to 50,000 children and adolescents take part in Hamas-run summer camps in Gaza. In addition to social activities, the camps offered Quran lessons, indoctrination with Hamas’ political ideology, and paramilitary training. The core values are radical Islam, “the liberation of Palestine,”jihad, and death for the sake of Allah. The older children use real rifles in paramilitary training, which also includes hand-to-hand combat. At the summer camp graduation ceremonies in recent years , teenagers in military uniform reenacted the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. The children of Hamas also blew up a cardboard model of an Israeli tank.
Illustration Pictures with courtesy of IDF’s spokesman unit