The Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza has announced that a military academy is to be built in the territory. Speaking during the graduation ceremony of a military youth camp attended by 10,000 students, Ismail Haniyeh said that a school with physical and theoretical military training on the timetable would be followed by the establishment of a "Palestine Military Academy".
The graduation came at the end of "Education Year" during which the Ministry of Education introduced a number of programmes intended to get more people involved in educational activities. According to Prime Minister Haniyeh, the establishment of a military academy would be "the best way to complete the programme announced by the Ministry of Education because we are on the threshold of liberation".
Calling on Education Minister Osama Al-Mozaini to take steps towards this, Mr. Haniyeh asked him to start recruiting students for the new school from next year. "It will be a military school for preparatory, secondary and college students," he added.
During his speech, Haniyeh said that the new military school would be an educational and scientific military institution, working to the plan already adopted by the education ministry.
"Today's celebration programme is being held on the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who is the leader, the strategist and the teacher of principles for creating a state with Jerusalem as its capital," said the Prime Minister. "It is the birthday of return and liberating prisoners."
Addressing the graduates at the ceremony, he said, "You are the leaders of the future. You are the ones who are leading the nation to freedom, pride and dignity. Those who receive this kind of education have to be efficient in order to work on liberating Palestine from the sea to the river."
Describing the aims of incorporating military training with academic studies, Haniyeh told the students that such training will peak by "liberating Al-Aqsa Mosque and making it a free place". He pointed out that the younger generation contains Palestine's future leaders who need to be nurtured by the government in the national principles of the Palestinian people.
There is currently no voluntary or compulsory military service in the occupied Palestinian territories, unlike Israel, where national military service is compulsory for men and women. The Ministry of Education organised military-style camps during the mid-year holiday in Gaza to provide the opportunity for 16 and 17 year old students to be exposed to basic fitness training, discipline and nationalist concepts.