Labor Day signals the end of summer. Camp days are over and its time for school. This is not only true in the United States but it is also happening in Gaza. Of course American Kids made lanyards,swam and played baseball in their camps, while the Hamas kids learned explosives, how to hat the west and how to use rifles.
In a mass ceremony hundreds of kids graduated from Hamas-run summer camps after three months of intensive paramilitary training and religious education.
Wearing green baseball caps, these children, who range in age from eight to 15, gathered all summer long at camps in playgrounds that mushroomed all over the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
In separate camps both boys and girls received paramilitary training in different kinds of weapons, as well as daily indoctrination with the cultural hatred against what Hamas describes as Western values, which, they claim have been brought in by the pro-Israeli “collaborators,” a term used in reference to its Fatah rivals.
Hamas militiamen routed Fatah opponents in Gaza last June and took over all the Fatah security compounds and the Palestinian Authority’s premises, including P.A. Chairman Mahmoud ‘Abbas’ own residence, known as al-Muntada.
Meanwhile, Fatah accused Hamas of taking advantage of Gaza parents’ desperate economic straits by offering to care for and feed their children while concealing the organization’s true motives.
Recent reports showed that almost 90 percent of Gaza residents are living in extreme poverty, while 80 percent of people living inside refugee camps are dependent on daily food handouts given to them by humanitarian organizations, mainly the UNRWA.
Fatah officials also warned that the whole purpose of the summer camps was to create a hate-filled generation loyal to Hamas to strengthen its power and tighten its grip on the coastal enclave.
Denying those accusations, Hamas operatives said summer camps were places where the kids learned great Islamic values, which they would never learn if left in the streets during the summer school vacation.
Hamas covers all expenses at the training camps, a social welfare program being carried out through hundreds of charities, which also manage nursery schools and kindergartens that are usually attached to mosques.
As part of its efforts to further isolate Hamas in Gaza, the P.A. government decided last week to shut down more than 100 charities in the West Bank suspected of illegally channeling funds to Hamas.
The government also approved new anti money laundering rules to prevent Hamas from using illegal sources to transfer money from its offices abroad to the isolated leadership in the Gaza Strip.