- Up to 10,000 boys at a time visit camp in the Gaza Strip
- Explosions and burning tyres used to make mock warzone realistic
- Believed purpose is to radicalise the terrorists of tomorrow
By Emily Davies
Many will remember the rat-a-tat sounds they made during the war games they played as children. But these chilling images show that for youths on the Gaza Strip, the guns are all too real. The sinister summer camp hosts up to 10,000 boys at a time – and appears to have been designed to mould its visitors into the terrorists of tomorrow.
Youths aged between six and 16 were seen taking part in a range of exercises, including one that simulated the capture of an Israeli soldier.
Explosions and burning tyres helped to simulate realistic battle conditions, as boys were coached to flee from the enemy and shoot at targets. Bullets were fired overhead by their masked supervisors.
The boys were also pictured marching and standing to attention as orders were barked at them to instil military discipline.
Visitors to the camp, called Generation of Faith, are given AK47s that are bigger than some of the children holding them.
Participants wear black uniforms bearing the camp’s slogan in Arabic, with a logo showing two fists, two guns and a map of the Gaza Strip.
They are given lessons in Islamic studies as well as gruelling physical training, and it is believed that the camp’s purpose is to radicalise the next generation from a young age.
It is feared that the cadets will join the 300,000 children estimated by Unicef to be currently involved in conflicts across the globe.
The kidnapping ‘game’ witnessed yesterday, which drew comparisons to the capture of soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006, involved a young boy being dragged by two gun-toting teenagers from an area marked with an Israeli flag.
Shalit was finally released after more than five years in captivity, as part of a prisoner exchange.