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In Gaza, Youth See Future As Hamas Fighters

Operation Protective Edge, last summer’s conflict in Gaza, found the IDF putting a dent in much of Hamas’ terror capabilities. But despite the defeat the terrorist organization took, The Times of Israel’s Mai Yaghi reports that thousands of Gaza’s young people are being trained as the group’s next generation of Hamas terrorists:

Hatem is only 14 but has already lived through three wars with Israel. Now the young Gazan says he is making sure he’ll be ready to fight in the next one …

“I will become a resistance fighter,” the boy said proudly during a graduation ceremony in Gaza.

Hatem is one of 17,000 youngsters who graduated late last month from two military training camps where Hamas — the de facto power in Gaza — said it was preparing the next generation to fight against Israel.

Last summer, Israel and Hamas fought a 50-day war that killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 people, including 66 soldiers, on the Israeli side. Israel maintains that up to half of those killed in Gaza were Hamas fighters.

It was their third conflict in less than five years, following an eight-day conflict in 2012 and a 22-day war in late 2008 and early 2009. Hamas seeks the destruction of Israel.

Children were on the frontline of the latest conflict, with UN figures showing about 500 were killed in Gaza. Jerusalem blamed Hamas for all civilian fatalities, since it placed its rocket launchers and cross-border tunnel openings in Gaza residential areas.

Just five months after the war ended, thousands of those who survived signed up to join the Hamas training camps.

“I want to join the Qassam Brigades because they are the strongest in Gaza,” said 15-year-old Mohammed Abu Harbid, who also took part in the training.

With the humanitarian situation in post-war Gaza growing steadily worse, a fresh flare-up with Israel seems likely, some say.

And with many schools being used to shelter the displaced and unemployment standing at 41 percent, many youngsters were eager to join the camps.

Hamas insists that teaching children how to carry out terror attacks is a legitimate part of “resistance” activities against Israel.

But the camp, which accepts boys and men aged 14 to 21, has incensed human rights activists who accuse Hamas of exploiting children traumatized by war.

The group is classified as a terror group by Israel, the US and until the recently the European Union, which was forced to remove Hamas from the black list last year over a technicality …

The group has been running summer camps for youngsters for years, but this week-long session was a much more serious affair.

Run for the first time by terrorists from the Qassam Brigades, there were no “fun” sessions — and no mid-week visits to Gaza’s zoo.

“They were trained intensively in using light and heavy weaponry and were taught how to ambush, so they can lead the next battle for liberation…”

Tags: Hamas , Gaza

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