The story comes from The Clarion Project.
Hamas Trains Gaza Schoolboys to Fire Kalashnikovs
Gaza schools are providing military training to teenage boys, teaching them how to fire rocket launchers, Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons, says a report by The Guardian.
According to Gaza's Ministry of Education website, members of Hamas's Izzadin Kassam brigades are assisting in the training. They also teach schoolboys first aid, fire fighting and "the values of discipline and responsibility." In addition, the school curriculum is supplemented with voluntary camps during school breaks where the boys get further training in handling guns and explosives.
About 5,000 boys have been trained in this program since it started in September 2012. The general curriculum is taught to 37,000 students aged 15-17. Parents are entitled to withdraw their sons from the course, but the newspaper reports that such a move is rare.
The Hamas education ministry website denies real weapons are being used in training, however, a video that has been posted shows a teenager at the Gamal Abdel Nasser school near Gaza City fire a rocket launcher at a target that includes a makeshift Israeli flag.
Samir Zakout, from the Gaza-based human rights organization Al Mezan, criticized the program. "It's unbelievable. Hamas has been cutting sports activities in schools for the past six years, saying there is no time in the curriculum, but now they find the time to have military training inside schools," he said. "They should not be doing this. It's building a military culture, familiarizing boys with resistance and creating the next generation of militants," he added.
Mohammed Syam, general director of educational activities for Hamas, denied that there was any military training in the program and said only one percent of it was devoted to learning about weapons. However, a press release in his name said the program focuses on military exercises, particularly on weapons training and skills. "We are not conducting military training in our schools, we are providing information," Syam said.
Izzadine Mohammed, a student at the school confirmed that he had been trained in handling real weapons at a camp this year. "I was excited to learn the right way to use a weapon," Izzadine said. "It's important because of the occupation. I feel stronger and more confident with the knowledge, which I could use against the occupier."
Mohammed, 17, said he had attended a camp for six hours a day over a two-week period at which instructors from the national security were assisted by militants from the Qassam Brigades. About 170 boys from his school were taught how to fire and maintain Kalashnikovs, as well as the use of grenades and improvised explosive devices.
"They told us the purpose was to know how to defend ourselves and how to confront the occupation," he said. "I was excited to learn how to use a Kalashnikov properly. I feel stronger and more confident."
The boys at his camp were keen to learn firefighting and first aid, "But we were happiest with the weapons training." Mohammed, whose brother, a militant, was killed by Israeli troops during the 2008-9 war in Gaza, said he was a supporter of Hamas and would consider joining the Qassam Brigades.
The government is considering adapting the course for teenage girls next year. "There has been no final decision yet, we are still studying this option," Syam said.
An al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group recently posted a video (below) showing about twenty children learning to fire pistols and guns in the group’s training camp. Some of the children are so small that the shock wave nearly knocks them over. The video shows the children, some of them not older than five, firing various weapons, including pistols, AK-47s and machine-guns, dressed in traditional Muslim attire.