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A tale of two summer camps in Gaza City

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

A Palestinian boy looks on through a fabric sheet as he takes part in a summer camp organized by the Hamas movement in Gaza City on June 16.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Mahmoud Haniyeh, 13, crawls during a military-style exercise at a summer camp organized by the Hamas movement in Gaza City on June 17. Tens of thousands of children from the Gaza Strip spend at least part of their holidays in special summer camps arranged around a wide array of activities. Some, organized by the United Nations, offer sports, art and dance classes. Others, laid on by Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas, include fun and games, while seeking to reinforce religious values and awareness of the conflict with Israel.

 

Tens of thousands of children from the Gaza Strip spend at least part of their holidays in special summer camps, arranged around a wide array of activities. Some, organized by the United Nations, offer sports, art and dance classes. Others, backed by Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas, include fun and games, while seeking to reinforce religious values and awareness of the conflict with Israel. Reuters photographer Mohammed Salem explored the differences between the two kinds of camps.

By Mohammed Salem, Reuters photographer

Since summer vacations started, every morning as I go to the office I see lots of children on the way to their summer camps, traveling either on foot or by bus. Based on my previous visits to these camps, the stark contrast between the various activities on offer occurred to me as an interesting subject for a story.

I started my exploratory tour by visiting a Hamas-run summer camp, where I spent about 20 minutes watching the youngsters and seeing what they were really interested in. My attention was caught by their tough determination and ability to perform military-style exercises under the heat of the sun.

The scenes I watched in that camp were in complete contrast to what children are offered by the U.N. fun weeks. So for my story I planned to find two schoolchildren who were at the different camps and document their daily activities to illustrate their personal lives. Read more from the Reuters Photographers Blog.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Mahmoud Haniyeh, front right, gestures during a summer camp organized by the Hamas movement in Gaza City on June 16.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Mahmoud Haniyeh, front left, aims a wooden gun during a military-style exercise at a summer camp organized by the Hamas movement in Gaza City on June 17.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Mahmoud Haniyeh, bottom left, plays on a swing during a summer camp organized by the Hamas movement in Gaza City on June 16.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Palestinian boy Mahmoud Haniyeh, 13, sits with his mother, Umm Mohammed, left, at his family's house after returning from a summer camp organized by the Hamas movement, in Gaza City on June 16.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Palestinian girl Alaa Soboh, left, 10, takes part in a kite-making lesson with her supervisor during U.N.-run summer fun games weeks in Gaza City on June 17. Tens of thousands of children from the Gaza Strip spend at least part of their holidays in special summer camps, arranged around a wide array of activities. Some, organized by the United Nations, offer sports, art and dance classes. Others, laid on by Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas, include fun and games, while seeking to reinforce religious values and awareness of the conflict with Israel.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Alaa Soboh, second from left, takes part in a kite-making lesson.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Palestinian girls play during U.N.-run summer fun games weeks in Gaza City on June 17.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Alaa Soboh, 10, sits during U.N.-run summer fun games weeks in Gaza City on June 17.

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Alaa Soboh, rear, walks in her family's house in Gaza City as her father, Ayman, returns home after teaching at a university June 17.