GAZA PRESENTS: 'PRISONERS' SUMMER CAMP'
By Elior Levy
July 11, 2012
Summer fun – Narrow hallways, interrogation rooms painted black, isolation cells and handcuffed mannequins – this is all part of the setting of a new summer camp operated by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The Islamic group has been operating summer camps for children in all cities and refugee camps throughout the Strip. This year, the organizers came up with an original theme – "the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners" – allowing children to experience first hand the daily lives of prisoners held in Israel.
Hytham al- Madhun, one of the camp guides, explained that the mock prison set up for the camp is divided into six rooms, each simulating the incarceration conditions of Palestinian prisoners. The first room is an interrogation cell, which is where prisoners are first led once entering the prison. In this room, Madhun describes to the kids "the prisoners' firm resilience in the face of Israeli interrogators' threats and their refusal to admit the charges ascribed to them."
One of the main heroes of the camp is Ibrahim Hamed, who was the head of Hamas' military wing in Ramallah and is responsible for murdering dozens of Israelis. The guides boastfully tell the children how Hamed, who was recently sentenced to 54 life sentences, has continually refused to give his interrogators any information, including his given name.
In the next room, the children get to see what a prisoner's cell looks like, and the guides warn them of Israeli agents who pose as prisoners, trying to get the Palestinian prisoners to talk and admit to their acts. Other rooms include a solitary confinement chamber, a torture den, a room that simulates a prison hospital, and even a small prison courtyard.
Ahmad Rantisi, one of the organizers of the summer camp, said that its goal is to allow children to get a tangible experience of the suffering of Palestinian prisoners, and strengthen their belief in the protection of Palestinian land and the high price that must be paid.
One of the camp participants, Abed al-Aziz, recounted what he had learned, saying "we were taught about the Palestinian prisoners who suffer greatly for the Palestinian people and that the occupation forces deprive them from the basic human rights they deserve."
In addition to the mock prison, the children participate in different activities, including military training, religious studies and walking on boards with rusty nails and knife blades.