Palestinian students hold rifle-shaped wooden sticks during a graduation ceremony.
Palestinian students hold rifle-shaped wooden sticks during a graduation ceremony for the first group of school children's military training organized by Hamas. Photo by Reuters
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More than 3,000 Palestinian teenagers have graduated from the Hamas militant group's first high school military training program in the Gaza Strip.

The Futuwwa, or Youth, program is a weekly elective that is offered in all of Gaza's high schools. Officials say 3,600 participated in the first session, which began in September.

At a ceremony Thursday, Hamas' Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh said that he has ordered his education minister to establish a full-time military college to open next September.

During the trainig, students climb down buildings on ropes, jump over obstacles and crawl under barbed wire. The oldest students also are trained to use light weapons, while younger ones train with wooden rifles.

The students were dressed in black T-shirts and hats, and some painted their faces black, during a ceremony Thursday in a stadium attended by Haniyeh.