The Palestinian militant group Hamas, who engaged with Israel in May in an 11-day conflict said on Thursday that they are replenishing their troops through an annual summer camp where young civilians are trained in militancy. Called "Talayiea Al Tahrir" or "Vanguards of Liberation," the summer camp program's goal is to "ignite the flame of jihad in the generation of liberation, sow Islamic values and prepare the expected victory army for the liberation of Palestine, Allah willing."
The announcement was made through a news release on Thursday from Hamas' armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, WND reported. The Hamas militant group made up of Palestinian Sunni Islamists and nationalists in Gaza were in conflcit in Gaza in May. For 11 days, the Hamas militant group traded rockets with the Israel Defense Forces, for which they were no match.
At the end of the most recent Israel-Gaza conflict, the Israeli military claimed that there were over 4,300 rockets fired by the Hamas militant group, BBC reported. Michael Herzog, a retired Israeli brigadier-general at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, commented that the Hamas "replenished themselves and added a few longer-range rockets to their arsenal with a heavier payload so obviously they've advanced their capabilities."
But the death toll tells a different story. On the Palestinian side, over 200 people were killed, including 61 children and 36 women. The Israel Defense Forces claims that most of these killings were Hamas extremists, including some of its leaders. Some of the deaths were also caused by misfired rockets. A ceasefire was declared after 11 days of attacks that began on May 10.
Now, Hamas is concentrating on strengthening its forces by providing military training and anti-Israel indoctrination to those who sign up for this year's "Vanguards of Liberation" summer camp, which was announced by the al-Qassam Brigades on Sunday. According to the Long War Journal, the Hamas militant group was seeking "preparatory to university-aged males" to enlist at registration sites all over the Gaza Strip. Such registration sites have been set up near mosques and public areas.
On Thursday, the Brigades announced they had a "huge turnout for registration" for the summer camp providing military training and anti-Israel indoctrination to the youth. And this is not surprising at all. According to the Washington Post, the Al-Amari Refugee Camp in the West Bank had been forr decades a "stronghold of Fatah, the secular and nationalist party that emphasizes diplomacy as its answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." But now, its youth have shifted their alliance to Hamas.
"They've given strength to the whole Palestinian cause," a 16 year old boy named Mohammed Khadier told WaPo, with his friends in agreement. "We consider Hamas our leader now."
According to the report, support for Hamas and the increase in the militant group's popularity is also due to the fact that the Palestinian Authority's president Mahmoud Abbas showed weak leadership in the face of the Israeli response. BBC reported that Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant groups "increasingly use Iranian expertise to manufacture their own rockets in secret workshops," using missiles made from water pipes and other "dual use" materials that are heavily regulated by the United Nations, effectively making it tricky to send aid in rebuilding the Gaza Strip.