Summer camps of hate for Palestinian children as young as seven

The 'Buds of Construction and Liberation' camp features 'training in military order and discipline' from PA commanders


Hundreds of children as young as seven are being taught to handle automatic weapons and to celebrate the killers of Israeli Jews at a Palestinian summer camp being held in the hills near Hebron in the West Bank.

Run by Fatah, the party founded by the late Yasser Arafat that controls the Palestinian Authority (PA), the “Buds of Construction and Liberation” camp features “training in military order and discipline” from commanders of PA security forces.

Photos posted on Palestinian social media show hundreds of children who have gone through the camp holding Kalashnikov rifles in front of a banner depicting Arafat and his successor as Fatah’s leader, the PA’s president Mahmoud Abbas.

A video on the official Facebook page of the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture explains that the camp is necessary because “our battle with the sons of dogs [in other words, Israelis] is long and we need a young generation”.

The same video depicts children assembling and disassembling automatic rifles while a song plays in the background. Its lyrics state: “Everyone raise their weapons and put a bullet in the barrel … We are the national security forces, we are the men of Al-Asifa [Fatah’s armed wing]. Fatah, Fatah, Fatah! We are its men! We are the men of Al-Asifa, we do not fear death.”

The page also contains a section showing children being taught to venerate Dalal Mughrabi, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Fatah fighter who led the worst single terrorist attack in Israel’s history, the 1978 Coast Road massacre in which 37 civilians were murdered, including 12 children.

A video shows an instructor telling a group of about 100 children inside what looks like a sports hall that Mughrabi “is equal to the entire world”, adding: “O Dalal, they trained you, and had you carry a Kalashnikov. They led you to the shore to a self-sacrificing operation. Dalal trained girls in preparing explosives and hand grenades.”

Details of the camp were unearthed by researchers at Palestinian Media Watch, a Jerusalem-based think tank that monitors both mainstream and social media in Arabic. Their disclosure comes less than two weeks after US President Joe Biden visited the Middle East and held talks with IsraeI’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Mr Abbas.

Afterwards Mr Biden restated America’s commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, with Mr Abbas as Israel’s negotiating partner.

At a joint press conference with Mr Biden, Mr Abbas called on the US to remove the PLO from America’s list of terrorist organisations and to reopen its outpost in Washington, which was closed by President Trump. He insisted: “We are not terrorists.”

In a Fatah Facebook video, its host, Muhammad Mundhir al-Batta, explains the purpose of the summer camp, saying: “From the day that Fatah began in 1965, the leadership has shown great interest in the lion cubs and flowers under 18, because we all understand that our occupation is a very long conflict.

“Thus Fatah established a training camp for children next to every military base of the Al-Asifa – in Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen and Algeria.

“Arafat and the Fatah leadership were present at the training courses and gave them certificates on completing the Fatah military course for children.”

The video continues with photos of PLO/Fatah attacks perpetrated by graduates of the children’s courses in Jordan and Beirut.

This tradition, the video goes on, is now being continued: “In partnership with Fatah, we are holding camps with the PA security forces. We have begun to accept boys and girls from age seven at an army camp for three days. They wear soldiers’ uniforms, eat their food and are trained in military order and discipline.”

Mr al-Batta’s commentary says that this “inspires pride”, adding that at the concluding ceremony for every children’s cohort that has completed a course at the camp, both security force commanders and a member of the Fatah central committee are present to hand out students’ certificates.

The UN and its children’s agency, Unicef, have long condemned the training and use of child soldiers. Every year the UN secretary-general issues a blacklist of countries held to have committed “grave violations” of the rights of the child.

Maurice Hirsch, Palestinian Media Watch’s director of legal strategy, told the JC he had repeatedly given Unicef examples of the PA’s abuse of children’s rights, but had been ignored, because the institutions prefer to condemn only Israel.

He said: “While the PA trains child soldiers to be terrorists, the world chooses to ignore this, although the same children will in some cases go on to commit murders. Sadly, the international community and its institutions prove time and again that they only care about Palestinian children when they can be used to attack Israel, and appear not to be concerned about their well-being.”

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