Summer camp conjures up bucolic images of swimming and other outdoor fun. But thousands of Palestinian children will experience something quite different, as exhibited in a report issued Thursday by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
In addition to learning scouting, first-aid and other traditional skills, kids at a Palestinian Islamic Jihad camp receive hands-on training in gruesome terror tactics, and play a variation on "capture the (Israeli) flag" that involves a young boy being dragged by his arms as the children learn the art of kidnapping Israeli soldiers.
Up to 10,000 children ages 6-16 attend each session of the "Generation of Faith" camps.
Dressed in T-shirts emblazoned with the Islamic Jihad's logo, children work with real AK-47s and face explosions and fiery burning tires in an all too memorable "war zone," Britain's Daily Mail reports.
This is just the latest example of Palestinians targeting youngsters with messages of war and glorifying death. These campers may have seen a back-to-school program aired by Hamas-controlled television called "The Gifted" that showed a 2-year-old boy in military garb and aiming an assault weapon "at the occupying terrorists."
"We'll wear the battle-vest of self sacrifice and follow the path of the Shahids," a child narrator says as the younger boy, his face hooded, stoops down with his weapon. Hamas also runs a program for high school students called "Futuwwa" that trained thousands of teenaged boys on handling a Kalashnikov rifle and throwing grenades.
The Islamic Jihad's camp director said the goal is "to raise an outstanding generation of believing [Muslims] that are well aware of their goals in the conflict with the Zionist enemy and who adhere to the honorable Koran and to the Prophet's sunna, as [Islamic Jihad founder] Dr. Fathi Al-Shqaqi ordered us to do," the MEMRI report said.
One camper notes that he will be "an outstanding [fighter] like the honorable martyrs Muhammad Al-Sheikh Khalil, Mahmoud Al-Zatma, and Yasser Abu Al-'Aish." Those are three senior Islamic Jihad commanders involved in numerous attacks against Israel.
The camp's emphasis on training is no coincidence. Israeli Defense Forces recently reported a sharp rise in attempted kidnappings, documenting 27 cases this year alone. The children of Gaza have a rich selection of role models from which to choose.