- Title: GAZA: Hamas and Fatah launch separate summer camps in Gaza
- Date: 3rd August 2007
- Summary: (MER1) MAGHAZI CAMP, GAZA STRIP (JULY 31, 2007) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PALESTINIAN YOUTH PARTICIPATING IN HAMAS SUMMER CAMP SWIMMING IN SEA AND CARRYING HAMAS FLAGS PALESTINIAN YOUTHS CHANTING HAMAS SLOGANS CLOSE OF YOUNG MAN WEARING GREEN HAMAS SUPPORTERS CHANTING AND SINGING
- Embargoed: 18th August 2007 13:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA4PKR70F37OJPAXN7KORB14I29
- Story Text: Palestinian children attend separate summer camps in Gaza run by Hamas and Fatah where they learn the culture and ideology of each group or movement.
Not far from Maghazi refugee a camp, dozens of young Hamas supporters swim in the sea and play in the sand while others seek shelter from the sun by sitting in tents.
The youths are gathered for a Hamas scouts camp were they learn the principles and ideals of the Islamist group along with basic self-defence training.
The rival Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas claims that the youths attending the Hamas camp receive military training, something which Hamas denies.
"We learn the scouts proper march, and that is all. However, there is no military training in our camps because they are scout camps. We learn about how to prepare for festivals and this camp is built on cooperation," said Ahmed al-Haj, a 16-year-old Hamas supporter, who was attending the camp.
Young female Hamas supporters have their own tents and camp, several yards from those of the males.
Aside from teaching the youths about the ideals of Hamas, they also celebrate the memories of Hamas fighters killed in the conflict with Israel.
Divided more than ever after Hamas' armed takeover of Gaza, Palestinians are watching their dream of statehood turn into even more of a nightmare to achieve.
Internal strife that has effectively created a fiefdom in Gaza controlled by Hamas Islamists and a West Bank dominated by the secular Fatah group seems to have become just as much as an obstacle to a homeland as Israeli occupation.
In spite of Gaza being under Hamas' control, supporters President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah faction are still able send their children to Fatah summer camps in Gaza where the children are taught about the foundation of Fatah, once the dominant group in Gaza Strip until it was militarily defeated by the Islamist Hamas fighters.
"We sit together and talk. If someone wants to asks something about Fatah then they ask it, if I want to ask something about Fatah then I ask it. Who ever wants to say something about Fatah can say it," said one unidentified boy, who was attending the Fatah camp.
The children also learn how to perform the "Dabka, "the traditional Palestinian dance to the rhythm of a Fatah national song.
A brief civil war a month ago in Gaza put the coastal territory, home to 1.5 million people, into the hands of Hamas Islamists, who refuse to recognise Israel.
President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, which favours peacemaking with the Jewish state, holds sway in the West Bank, where 2.5 million live and he has established an emergency government shorn of Hamas.
Israel and its western allies, who associate Hamas with suicide bombings and rocket attacks against the Jewish state, shun the group for its refusal to renounce violence and accept Israel.
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