Hamas student group hosts military exhibition in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Islamic Bloc, Hamas’ student wing, held a major exhibition in the Gaza Strip from Nov. 14 to Nov. 22. The event was held in a school complex in the west of the city in commemoration of the ninth anniversary of the assassination of Ahmed al-Jabaari, the former commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing.

Abdullah al-Hadidi, the deputy head of the preparatory committee for the exhibition, told Al-Monitor, “The exhibition is the first of its kind organized by the Islamic Bloc in cooperation with al-Qassam Brigades, in a bid to attract school students and introduce them to Hamas’ military industries … and instill the spirit of resistance in them.”

He explained that the exhibition included a historical display showcasing military equipment used by al-Qassam Brigades over the years in fighting against Israel, stressing that the presentation was designed for students of all levels.

Hadidi said that turnout was high at some 2,000 people a day. The morning hours were set aside for student visitors, the afternoon for women and the evening for families.

Hadidi added that the Islamic Bloc coordinated with the Education Ministry in Gaza to organize trips for students to visit the exhibition.

Smaller exhibits included one dedicated to al-Jaabari, displaying his personal belongings such as weapons, personal photos and keffiyeh. Another was dedicated to the weapons al-Qassam Brigades has used over the years, including hand grenades, long-range missiles, guns and drones.

Missiles and other weapons were carefully displayed on tables, with labels for the type of each weapon, the date of manufacture and the first time it was used against Israel. A caption at an empty spot read, “What is kept hidden is even greater,” a reference to the weapons that Hamas possesses and has not yet revealed.

“There are new weapons that will be announced once they are used against Israel in the coming wars,” Hadidi said.

He added that the students were allowed to take photos holding the weapons including grenades and even the missiles under the supervision of arms experts from al-Qassam Brigades.

The event also included an exhibit about Al-Aqsa Mosque and another about Israeli prisons.

There was also a room for games simulating clashes with Israeli soldiers, designed for this year’s “Vanguards of Liberation” camps. The summer camps are organized by al-Qassam Brigades for school and university students in the Gaza Strip each year.

Inside the simulation room, a 4-year-old girl held a weapon with her mother’s help and cried when she could not win over an Israeli soldier and move up to the next level in the game. A monitor helped her to finish the game while her mother took pictures to show her father.

Hadidi said that the three-minute game has three levels. In the first, players liberate the Gaza envelope, and the second goal is the liberation of prisoners. Finally, players take Al-Aqsa Mosque.

“Similar exhibitions will be held across Gaza next month for the anniversary of the movement’s establishment,” he said.

Ayat Silmi, a 12th grade student, told Al-Monitor she was thrilled to visit the “Jerusalem Generation” exhibition, which enriched her knowledge about the Islamic resistance’s capabilities.

“I was really surprised to see the missiles fired at Israel. They are small and simple but they can cause damage in Israeli cities,” she told Al-Monitor.

Silmi’s friend told Al-Monitor, “I felt so happy when I was able to finish all the levels in the game and liberate Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Fadel Abu Hein, a lecturer at the Department of Psychology at Al-Aqsa University, told Al-Monitor, “These games have a positive effect on children in terms of enhancing self-confidence, which makes them feel closer to the adult world. But at the same time, it could affect their cognitive behavior and values, by learning inappropriate or bad terms or actions that are not appropriate to their age.”

“Some students are not ready to go through such experiences, especially given the many traumas they have undergone during the previous wars, including the sound of shelling and bloody scenes. These games could shock them even more,” he added, stressing that every child has the right to a normal and healthy childhood.

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