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Rediff.com  » News » Jihadi boot camp delivers 17,000 teen fighters

Jihadi boot camp delivers 17,000 teen fighters

February 03, 2015 10:14 IST

Back in October last year, after the bloody seven-week Gaza war that resulted in over 2200 deaths, Israeli Defence Forces chief Benny Gantz was quoted hailing the courage of Hamas -- his adversary -- in battle. ‘To run up and try to put an explosive charge upon a tank is the act of courageous people,’ he had said.

Over six months on, nearly 17,000 fresh-faced teenagers and young men, aged 15 to 21, have graduated to become part of the Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Organized by the Izzedin al-Qassam brigade, the armed wing of Hamas, the Gazan youth who completed the six-day camp are now part of a group called the “Vanguard of Liberation.” Among the topics taught were how to be a sniper, handling a variety of weapons, how to kidnap soldiers and how to most easily penetrate Israel through tunnels.

Here are some glimpses of the graduation ceremony:

Image: Palestinian youths jump through rings of fire during a military-style graduation ceremony after being trained at one of the Hamas-run Liberation Camps, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip . Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Image: Palestinian youths hold weapons during a military-style graduation ceremony. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Image: A Palestinian youth crawls under an obstacle during a military-style graduation ceremony. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Image: Palestinian youths swing across a monkey bar during a military-style graduation ceremony. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Image: A Palestinian youth prepares to jump over a fire during a military-style graduation ceremony. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Image: Palestinian youths take part in a military-style graduation ceremony. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Image: Palestinian youths take part in a military-style graduation ceremony. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters