by David Bedein
Jerusalem - At a time when Israel continues to come under scathing criticism for the deaths of 22 children during Israel’s three week counter attack in Gaza last winter, the Gaza regime has been training teenagers as young as 14 in military camps throughout Gaza p.
This summer, Hamas and several other Palestinian militias have recruited high school students for military training. Gaza teenagers are being taught basic combat skills as well as the use of explosive belts for suicide missions.
“In the war against Israel, there were more than 100 children trained to attack Israeli forces in Gaza,” a Gaza source told the Middle East Newsline., adding that “Some of them ran away and many of them were killed.”
Most recently. the Saudi-owned news agency Elaph ran a news feature about the recruitment of teenagers by Islamic militias in the Gaza Strip and other parts of the Arab world. Elaph, based in Beirut, visited military training camps in the Gaza Strip that included teenagers.
“Several minors who trained in Palestinian military camps confirmed that they were there of their own free will,” Elaph reported.
Correspondents toured several youth military training camps in Gaza.
One teenage fighter, who identified himself as Mohammed, an 11th grader, said that he underwent weapons training in Gaza's Futuh district. The recruitment was said to have begun with Islamic sermons at mosques controlled by Hamas or Palestinian militias. Teenage recruits represented the youth wing of the militias at their school and eventually were invited to training camp.
“A year ago, he [Mohammed] underwent training in carrying weapons, and received permission to aid resistance fighters in night reconnaissance of advancing Israeli military vehicles,” Elaph reported. “He was also trained to [aid the fighters] from a distance in armed clashes. Mohammed hopes to die defending the homeland for the sake of Allah, and follow his comrades who have already reached paradise.”
“There are institutions belonging to organizations dealing with educating children and deepening their awareness by means of summer camps” said Abu Mohammed, a senior agent in the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad, based in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the Gaza regime now employs thousands of children to construct and operate the tunnel network between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
The youngsters help dig tunnels to smuggle weapons from Egypt to Gaza.
A Palestinian report asserted that 16,000 people have been working in an estimated 800 tunnels that span the city of Rafah, which remains artificially divided between Egypt and Gaza... The report by the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution, estimated that half of the employees were under age 18.
The report said about 25 percent of the Palestinian victims of tunnel collapses were teenagers. The center said 30 of the 115 casualties since 2007 were below age 18.
In early July four Palestinian children suffocated to death in the tunnel network.
On late July five Palestinians teenagers were killed in a fire in a tunnel.
The teenagers were said to earn less than $30 per day, spending more than 10 hours underground.
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