World Bulletin/News Desk
The Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian resistance faction Hamas, has started training a "popular army" reportedly enlisting thousands youths in the Gaza Strip.
"Training started Sunday in open areas for thousands of youths," a sources with al-Qassam told Anadolu Agency.
He said the enlisted would initially be trained on using light arms and later on get training on using mortar shells and other more advanced weaponry.
The source added that the military training would go in parallel with "spiritual courses."
Al-Qassam has recently embarked on a campaign to establish a "popular army" to defend the Gaza Strip against any Israeli attack.
Flyers were hung on the walls of Gaza mosques, calling on youths to join the army in preparation for any possible conflict with Israel.
Al-Qassam was established in 1990 but made its presence known when it claimed responsibility for the 1992 killing of Shimon Biran, rabbi of Kfar Darom, a now-dismantled Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip.
In the following years, the group evolved into a more organized fighter movement that developed its own arsenal and rocket stockpile.
Today, al-Qassam boasts developing unmanned drones, long-range rockets and sniper rifles.
The group was engaged in three direct confrontations with Israel, the latest of which took place in July and August of this year.
The Israeli offensive left some 2,147 Palestinians dead and more than 11,000 injured – the vast majority of them civilians – while partially or completely destroying thousands of residential structures across the territory.
According to Israeli figures, 67 Israeli soldiers and five civilians were killed over the course of the operation – the highest military death toll suffered by Israel since it lost 119 troops in its 2006 war on Lebanon.
The Israeli offensive, initially launched with the stated aim of ending rocket fire from the coastal enclave, ended on August 26 with an open-ended cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions.Last Mod: 13 Kasım 2014, 23:16