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Hamas summer camps for kids include military training

Hamas is keen to retain its influence in Palestinian society, and is using its annual summer camps to stay connected with Gaza youth.
Young Palestinians swim in a pool as they take part in a military-style exercise at a summer camp organized by the Hamas movement in Gaza City June 12, 2014. Hamas stages dozens of military-style summer camps for young Palestinians in Gaza strip to prepare them to confront any possible Israeli attack, organisers said. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3TFW5

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — In the streets surrounding the Saraya neighborhood in central Gaza City, boys are lined up in groups like military battalions, wearing paramilitary clothes and surrounded by supervisors in full uniform and carrying weapons, while loudspeakers chant fiery Hamas anthems calling for jihad.

A thousand students ranging in age from 12 to 17 gather in the afternoons for three hours, seven days a week, wearing fatigues, black shirts and green berets. They are trained in the basics of military action and security in the camps organized by the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip during their summer vacation. Forty supervisors affiliated with the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, divide the students into groups. Some groups are trained to carry and use arms and others to navigate obstacle courses, while another group is trained on debarkation techniques and safety.

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