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Masked Hamas gunmen operate among children in order to deter Israeli attacks. Hamas uses mosques, schools and hospitals for military purposes.
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At Hamas summer camps, children receive Islamist indoctrination and paramilitary training. They also learn song lyrics that encourage violence against Jews.

Hamas Enforces Islamic Law in Gaza

While life for Palestinians in the West Bank has improved dramatically in recent years, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip remain under the control of the terrorist group Hamas, a repressive and uncompromising Islamist regime that is sponsored by Iran and Syria. It is because of Hamas that Israel—with the quiet support of Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA)—maintains a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

When Hamas violently seized power in Gaza from PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction in 2007—less than two years after Israel completely withdrew from the area—the terrorist group imposed Islamic law on the residents of Gaza.

“We are telling our people that the past era has ended and will not return,” Hamas spokesman Islam Shahawan said at the time. “The era of justice and Islamic rule has arrived.”

Hamas’ style of governing was no surprise to those who had been following its violent actions for many years. Hamas, an Arabic acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement, spells out its aims in its charter. Its motto: “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model to be followed, the Koran its constitution, Jihad its way, and death for the sake of Allah its loftiest desire.”

Oppressing Women

From the moment of birth, a baby boy is celebrated. A baby girl is accepted.” — Hamas MP Jamila al-Shanti

Hamas rule is difficult for anybody to live under, but it is particularly tough on women.

“Women of the fighting family” are responsible for looking after the family and raising the children with “more values and thoughts derived from Islam,” the Hamas charter says. Mothers are also expected to teach their children “to perform the religious duties in preparation for the role of fighting [that is] awaiting them.”

Hamas forbids any activities that do not prepare a girl or young woman for these responsibilities. “Islamizing society has always been part of Hamas strategy,” said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political science professor at Gaza’s al-Azhar University. 

Some women actually embrace that role. Maryam Farhat happily sent three of her six sons on suicide missions against Israeli civilians. Today, she is a Palestinian celebrity.

But there are plenty of women who want nothing to do with the coercive Hamas regime. These “rebels” are a frequent target of Hamas police. Recently, Hamas police questioned a woman for walking with a man along a Gaza beach. And, in November, Hamas banned women from dancing and riding on scooters.

Hamas security forces do not allow outsiders to interfere with their aims. The group recently shut down two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that were dedicated to women’s issues: the South Society for Women’s Health, and the Women and Children Society.

Gazan women often rely on NGOs as an alternative to Hamas-run institutions. In fact, 77 percent of women in Gaza suffer from some type of violence, according to the Gaza-based Palestinian Women’s Information and Media Center.

And, while everyday life is difficult enough, Hamas also forces women and children to act as human shields for its fighters. During a rally in Gaza in 2008, Hamas MP Fathi Hammad said that his group makes “human shields of women, elderly, children” and sends the message to the Zionist enemy that “we desire death like you desire life.” BACK TO TOP

Indoctrinating Children

“We are working on young people, the next generation, to be more correctly Islamic.”—Hamas legislator Younis al-Astal

From a very young age, children are subjected to Hamas indoctrination. Everything from summer camps to television programming is under the auspices of the Islamist government.

Last summer, 700 Hamas-run summer camps hosted a total of 100,000 children. The summer camps’ curriculum included Islamist indoctrination, paramilitary training and Intifada song sessions, including one song with the lyrics, “Kill Zionists wherever they are, in the name of God.”

One camp advertised itself with the following pitch: “Experience a soldier’s life, serving Islam, locating excelling student groups that can operate in the preaching of Allah and Islam, in schools and central mosques.” At that camp, students participated in firearm practice and other military drills.

Parents in Gaza have little choice when selecting a summer camp for their children. Hamas prevents any competition from operating openly. Last month, for example, Islamists in Gaza burned and destroyed a camp that was owned and operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) because it taught girls “fitness, dancing and immorality.” The terrorists left behind a note stating that they would kill the head of UNRWA in Gaza, John Ging, if he didn’t cancel the activities that UNRWA provides for approximately 250,000 Gaza children.

Hamas is, of course, not just in charge of summer camps. At all times, the terrorist group controls schools and television programming. It is through the latter that Hamas indoctrinates the youngest children of Gaza.

Using characters that appeal to kids, Hamas teaches its young audience to want to become martyrs, reclaim all of Palestine and hate Jews. One show segment, which attracted worldwide media attention, portrayed a Mickey Mouse look-alike being caught cheating in class and complaining that it was not his fault since the Jews had destroyed his home and his textbooks.

Another video showed the same character being beaten and killed by an Israeli for refusing to sell his land to the “terrorist.” A young girl then called the character a martyr.

Three years after Hamas violently seized power in the Gaza Strip, the terrorist group has shown few signs that its rule will end anytime soon.