Children of Israeli settlers of primary school age were subject to weapons training at a summer camp inside an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank, an Israeli daily reported on Saturday.
Boys from the fourth and fifth grades were taught to handle M16 rifles as part of an “army day” weapons training session at the summer camp in the Yakir settlement according to Ynet News.
Outrage from some of the parents of the children who participated quickly followed with some resembling the program with a “Hamas camp”, according to the news report.
The camp itself was organized with the backing of the local regional council, while the training sessions were held with the approval of the Israeli army.
However, the director of the camp said he did not receive any objection from parents.
“We did not receive any calls from (the children’s) parents (against it). This was done with the approval of the security personnel in the town. They brought the weapons and everything was conducted in complete safety,” Ynet News reported the camp director as saying.
The report added that while the boys of the settlement were given the weapons training, the girls participated in “modesty and creativity activities”, including hairdressing and manicuring.
Saturday’s report follows concerns voiced over the past years by different liberal Israeli organizations as well as international NGOs on the “militarization” of Israeli students.
Parents of pupils and students in the Israeli national schooling education system have expressed increasing concern at the close link between schools and the Israeli security and military services.
Last year, a Tel Aviv school gave a “show and tell” presentation on weapons to eight-year-old children, which included the use of stun grenades, pepper spray, and tasers.
The school said the presentation was aimed at increasing “students’ feeling of being protected,” according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.The Centre for Research on Globalization, a Canada-based NGO, raised concerns in 2015 stating that Israeli teachers believe the army and schools work hand-in-hand and that the situation “will only get worse” under the current Education Minister Naftali Bennet.
The report added that close ties between the institutions meant “Israeli pupils are being raised to be “good soldiers” rather than good citizens” and that many teachers expressed concern at being sacked if seen to criticize official policy.
Bennet, who took over Israel’s Education ministry in 2015, is also the head of the Jewish Home, the settler movement’s far-right party.
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