An article in London's Telegraph is refocusing attention on a school program run by Hamas in Gaza that trains children how to use weapons and explosives.
The "Futuwwa" program started last fall as an elective class and attracted thousands of teenaged boys, who are trained in everything from first aid to handling a Kalashnikov rifle to how to throw grenades. It is the brainchild of Hamas education chief Mohamed Siyam, who denied teenagers were receiving military training. Rather, he said, "we are providing information."
A video posted on Youtube indicates Siyam is being disingenuous. In it, Palestinian students attack an Israeli military post with guns and later seeming to blast it with a shoulder-fired rocket.
Though Hamas schools are gender segregated, Futuwwa may be open to girls next year. In a February column, Arab-Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh criticized international human rights groups for their silence on "this form of child abuse."
"More disturbing is that only a few of the dozens of Western-funded human rights organizations that operate in the Gaza Strip have raised their voices against Hamas's abuse of children," Abu Toameh wrote. "Even the United Nations Children's Fund [UNICEF], which was created to work for children's rights, their survival, development and protection, has yet to condemn Hamas for recruiting school children to its military apparatus."
One Gaza-based human rights group, Al Mezan, has been critical, with spokesman Samar Zakout calling it "unbelievable" that Hamas would use schools "to create a resistance culture."
This is nothing new for Hamas, which has targeted the youngest school children with messages of jihad and martyrdom.
The program has the blessing of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who attended a January ceremony for the program, saying he wants to open a military college this fall.
Western nations need to consider this indoctrination in any discussion of a prospective Palestinian unity deal, or of whether to accept Hamas as an acceptable player in peace efforts, Abu Toameh wrote.
"By poisoning the hearts and minds of schoolchildren," he wrote, "Hamas is raising an entire generation of Palestinians on glorification of suicide bombers, jihad and terrorism."
Saudi Journalist Calls Hizballah a "Tool of the Mullahs"by IPT News • Apr 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm
Hizballah has always proclaimed to be the vanguard of the "resistance" against Israel, while claiming to advance Lebanese national interests as its priority.
But the ongoing Syrian civil war has exposed the terrorist organization "to be nothing more than a mere tool of the mullahs in Tehran, promoting the lies of the 'resistance' while condemning all those who have refused to fall for this charade," a column in the prominent London-based Asharq Al-Awsat says.
Opinion Editor Mshari Al-Zaydi says Hizballah's "resistance" slogan has been deceitful for "more than ten years" since the organization takes direct orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Its blatant fighting on behalf of dictator Bashar al-Assad makes this clear.
If the Assad regime falls, Hizballah suffers a severe setback to its influential position within Lebanon and the government. The organization also loses a strategic ally that has helped facilitate the transfer of weaponry and material from Iran.
As the European Union debates designating Hizballah a terrorist organization in light of recent terror activity, including its direct involvement in last summer's Bulgaria terrorist attack, Bahrain became the first Arab country to blacklist the group, as Sunni ruled countries are increasingly threatened by Hizballah's pro-Iranian activities in their countries.
Hizballah critics used to face blowback that they were supporting Israel and America. But the Syrian conflict exposes that empty deflection, Al-Zaydi writes. By siding with the dictator, Hizballah shows that it was using the "resistance" slogan for propaganda purposes to earn legitimacy within Lebanon and the Arab world. In reality, it acts along sectarian lines to advance Iran's Shi'ite-based hegemonic endeavors that cost tens of thousands of Arab lives.