Summer camp is supposed to be fun, right? Well, apparently not if you live in the Gaza Strip. Activities in the summer camps “We will live honorably,” organized by Hamas, include walking on nails and reliving the experience of prisoners in a mock Israeli jail.
“We will live honorably” provides activities to some 70,000 children across the Gaza Strip throughout the summer, the Quds News Network reported this week. But startling photos of the camp’s activities display children walking on nails and on knife blades.
The camp’s organizers even constructed a model of an Israeli security prison, to “reenact the daily suffering of Palestinian prisoners,” the Palestinian Maan news agency reported. The “prison,” made up of six rooms, is meant to demonstrate different aspects of treatment endured by security prisoners: an investigation room, a detention room, a confession extortion room, a solitary confinement room, a courtyard and an infirmary.
Ahmad Rantisi, one of the initiators of the prison idea, told Maan that it is meant to educate the youth about the suffering of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
“We learned that Palestinian prisoners suffer greatly for the Palestinian people. The occupation forces deny them the most basic human rights,” said camper Abdulaziz A-Saqa.
‘We will live honorably’ provides activities to some 70,000 children across the Gaza Strip throughout the summer
On a more positive note, environmental issues are also on the agenda of “We will live honorably.” Children from the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza took part in a camp campaign to clean the Nuseirat beach. Omar Aql, one of the camp’s directors, told Maan News Agency that the activity is meant to “strengthen the importance of volunteer work and create a clean social environment.”
Hamas’s main competitor in the Gaza Strip summer camp scene is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which has been running Gaza Summer Games, a chain of summer camps, since 2007. According to UNRWA’s website, the camps have reached 250,000 children and have broken four Guinness World Records, including the world’s largest kite flying event last year.
Apparently, however, some in Gaza were not pleased with UNRWA’s presence. In July 2011 camp facilities were vandalized and burnt to the ground. Arson also took place twice the previous year. Underfunded, UNRWA has decided to cancel Gaza Summer Games in 2012, leaving Hamas as the sole provider of recreational camps this summer.