Mimicking Hamas, Fatah Launches Terror Camps for Children

Youth, some armed with rifles, undergo military training including urban warfare tactics and hand-to-hand combat.

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Palestinian Arabs
Photo: Majdi Fathi/TPS

Jerusalem, 31 July, 2022 (TPS) — The Shechem (Nablus) branch of Fatah recently held summer camps for children and teens in the village of Bayta, south of the city, the latest terror organisation to hold summer activities for children which are a form of indoctrination to terrorism.

Videos of camp activities posted to social media showed the youth, some of them armed with rifles, undergoing military training, including urban warfare tactics, hand-to-hand combat, and negotiating obstacle courses.

They were trained by operatives of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces and armed Fatah operatives, who remained masked for the pictures.

Every year, tens of thousands of children and adolescents attend summer camps in the PA. In recent years most of the camps have been held in the Gaza Strip, conducted and supervised by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad (PIJ), with a small number run by civilian NGOs. Their activities include sporting events, arts, and trips, together with ideological indoctrination, glorification of terrorism and terrorists, and military training.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) estimates that the Fatah camp in Bayta was held because of the increasing participation of Fatah and its military-terrorist wing in the recent violent clashes with the Israeli security forces carrying out the counterterrorism Operation Wave Breaker in Jenin and Shechem in recent months.

In addition, Bayta was apparently not randomly chosen as the venue for the summer camps. During the past year, the area has been a focal point for riots by locals against Israeli security forces, who protest the establishment of the Evyatar community, which was evacuated a year ago and is currently a closed military site manned by the IDF.

Fatah’s summer camp opened for campers between the ages of 13 and 17. It was located in the government elementary school for boys in Bayta and called “al-‘Asafa youth,” the name of Fatah’s first military wing.

According to the camp’s Facebook page, the objective of the camp is “to restore the role of Palestinian youth to the foreground.” They were coordinated by a group of officers and instructors. The camp’s objective was to “reinforce the concept of revolution within the younger generation by preserving the legacy of the Shaheeds (martyrs) and their ‘struggle.’”

One of the camp’s activities was a three-day visit to al-Istiqlal University, the PA security academy in Jericho. They were received by Tawfiq alTirawi, a member of Fatah’s Executive Committee and university president, and were given guns, vests, and military training.

In Hebron, “the Buds of Construction and Liberation” summer camp, run by Fatah’s Central Hebron branch, hundreds of children had their pictures taken holding AK-47 rifles. The Fatah branch uploaded multiple photo albums of these pictures to its Facebook page.

The ultimate objective of these summer camps, besides training and indoctrination, is to act as an auxiliary force in a future confrontation with Israel. The ITIC has pointed to the incorporation of youth into Hamas’ terror apparatus in the Gaza Strip which makes the distinction between civilians and combatants during warfare more difficult and could result in a rise in civilian casualties.

The Palestinian Media Watch noted that on June 23, 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres released his annual report on “Children and armed conflict” (CAAC). The report lists areas of conflict, the different actors relevant in those situations, and the alleged violations of the rights of children. Countries or actors found to have committed “grave violations” of the rights of children can be put on the Secretary-General’s so-called “blacklist.”  One of the six “grave violations,” according to UN Security Council resolution 1539 (2004), is the recruitment or use of children by armed forces or armed groups.

In his report, Guterres failed to comment about violations against children committed by the PLO, Fatah, or Hamas, and in doing so he and his representatives “followed a repeated pattern of ignoring overwhelming public evidence,” PMW charged.

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