Hamas gives 17,000 Gaza youth paramilitary training

Gaza, Jan 29 (IANS) Around 17,000 youth from Gaza finished a one-week training course in paramilitary activities Thursday, which was organised and supervised by the Islamic Hamas movement’s armed wing.

The youths, aged between 16 and 21 years, were trained on how to get involved in gun battles and how to defend themselves by members of Hamas’s armed wing al-Qassam Brigades, Xinhua news agency reported.
A large graduation ceremony for the young people was held at Gaza’s main sports stadium.
“The training course focused on preparing the teenagers and the young men on how to defend themselves and their people and to be the future soldiers who will fight for Jerusalem, the refugees, the prisoners and the West Bank,” Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas movement leader said.
Meanwhile, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, addressed the graduation ceremony saying that the Palestinian armed resistance was founded to defend Palestine as well as the Arabs and Muslims all over the world.
“Logically, no one can say that training our children on how to fight for their rights can be called terrorism because these trainings aim at defeating the occupiers and the enemies,” said al-Zahar.
The Hamas movement had earlier denied reports which said that the movement was planning to build a popular army in the Gaza Strip.
Every year, Hamas organises this kind of training for teenagers and schoolchildren, especially during the summer.
Israel has complained that such training courses were “a clear incitement to violence and terrorism”.