The closing celebration for a Palestinian Authority summer camp featured children wearing military uniforms and posing with automatic weapons, according to images aired on Palestinian television in June and republished by an Israeli watchdog group on Monday.
More than 150 children attended the summer camp hosted by the Palestinian Authority. The program is for the children of individuals who are considered "martyrs and prisoners" by the West Bank government, according to Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli group that monitors Palestinian media.
Recent Stories in Issues
During the closing ceremony, campers held weapons and marched in dark green and white military garb. The images originally aired on the Awdah TV earlier this month, a station run by Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
The camp was sponsored by the Palestinian Authority National Security Forces and a youth movement created by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority’s president, called "the Lion Cubs and Flowers of Palestine."
Palestinian Media Watch reported that top PA and Fatah officials attended the closing ceremony, including Akram Rajoub, the Nablus district governor, and Jihad Ramadan, the secretary of the Nablus chapter of Fatah.
"Having summer camps for military training and naming sporting events after terrorist murderers are two of the ways the PA speaks loudly to its children," said Itamar Marcus, the founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, in a statement.
"The PA message to U.S. leaders in Washington is that they want peace. The PA message to their kids is that killing Israelis is heroic. It’s time the U.S. figured out which is the true message."
Hamas has also hosted summer camps with a similar military emphasis in Gaza.
Palestinian Media Watch said the camp is one of several recent examples of the Palestinian Authority promoting violence in the West Bank.
Al-Asima, a newspaper supplement distributed with the official PA paper, published an image in May that referenced Israel’s independence day and stated, "What was taken by force, can only be restored by force."
Fatah also posted an image on its official Facebook page of a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades with a missile and the message: "We promise that we will meet the enemy with two weapons in our hands – faith in Allah and in the inevitable victory, and the weapon with which we will confront our Zionist enemy."
Marcus said lawmakers should be aware of the Palestinian Authority’s promotion of violence.
"Whenever PMW meets with government officials we alert them it is more important to listen to what Mahmoud Abbas and the PA are saying to their children than it is to listen to what PA officials say to them," said Marcus.