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(photo credit: AP)
Some Palestinian parents in the Gaza Strip are up in arms over Hamas summer camps which are being used to train children on the use of weapons and other military equipment.
The families on Tuesday also accused Hamas of inciting their children against Israel and Fatah. Some of the families decided to pull their children out of the camps after discovering the goals of the camp. Most of the children who are participating in the current Hamas summer camps are between the ages of eight and 17.
In the past, Fatah also used summer camps for teaching schoolchildren how to use weapons and for inciting against Israel and the US.
The Fatah-affiliated Palestine Press Agency reported that the Hamas camps had been established in closed areas in various parts of the Gaza Strip so that the families would not see what's happening inside them.
The agency quoted eyewitnesses as saying that children were being taught how to fire automatic rifles and handle hand grenades.
"The military training is taking place in the early hours; children are being taught how to use Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons," said one eyewitness.
"The Hamas supervisors are also giving lectures to the children accusing Fatah of collaboration with Israel and betraying the Palestinians. They are also quoting phrases from the Quran that encourage the children to kill the 'traitors.'"
The children are recruited through advertisements in mosques that only promise to teach children about Islam.
A statement issued by Fatah accused Hamas of "kidnapping" and "brainwashing" the children.
"Hamas is helping create a culture of hatred and vengeance," the statement charged. "They are killing the innocence of children by forcing them to undergo military training and teaching them hatred. They want to use these children to fight their own people in the future.
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