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Israel kids flock to military-themed summer camps

Israeli school children watch a military exercise where a Palestinian target is killed and then get the opportunity to handle some of the weapons on 9 May, 2017 [Shehab News Agency]
Israeli school children watch a military exercise where a Palestinian target is killed and then get the opportunity to handle some of the weapons on 9 May, 2017 [Shehab News Agency]

The “new trend in summertime fun” for Israeli schoolchildren is “military-themed summer camps and courses”, reported Israeli publication Calcalist on Friday.

In one centre – “The Squadron” – a reservist brigadier general provides children with “briefing rooms” and flight simulators, where participants recreate the 1981 Israeli attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor.

During week two, the children “have their first taste of air battles and air strikes”. One of the camp leaders told the paper:

They are not here to pass the time, they are here to receive values.

Another summer activity includes martial arts training – Krav Maga – for children as young as 12-years-old, with tasks named “preparation for operational fire” and “counterterrorism 101”.

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A paintball company, meanwhile, offers daily activities based on the Israeli army’s “enlistment process and basic training”, moving children “through a military-style obstacle course and teaching them how to fire semi-automatic (paintball) weapons”.

One a recent day, Calcalist reported, “150 summer camp kids arrived here for bootcamp training”. Older children “come for daily activities in a special set designed for urban warfare: densely-built houses, burned vehicles, and sniper posts.”

Other centres offer courses in cyberwarfare for “tech-leaning kids”, with one child telling the reporter: “I want to serve in Unit 8200 [the military unit which conducts surveillance of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory].”

“I want to be a white hat, the one who stops the hackers with the black hats. White hats hack, say, for the Mossad, to find out things needed to protect the country, unlike black hats that are interested in criminal things like money or world domination,” he added.

According to Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) “these summer camps are an expression of the cultural militarism that characterises Israeli society”.

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