A group of 20 Christian and Druze teenagers from Mughar in the Galilee are taking part in a joint summer camp, aimed at lowering tension following the riots that swept the Lower Galilee village five months ago the Jerusalem Post reported yesterday. The week-long summer camp, under the heading "No to Violence," is the brainchild of police from the Ammakim District's Community and Civil Guard Department at the Tiberias station. Each day, police vans transport the 13 and 14 year-olds from the village to the station house where they hold discussion groups on the subject of violence as well as lectures on a wide range of subjects. In the afternoons, the ten Christian and ten Druze teenagers take part in recreational activities in the area. "At the outset the teenagers were very quiet and hardly spoke to one another but after just a couple of days they were chatting and enjoying each others' company," said Tiberias District Department Head Ch.-Supt. Shlomi Levy. Intensive reconciliation efforts, including repairs to property and lengthy meetings between Druze and Christian leaders in the framework of a Sulha committee, have helped restore calm since Druze youths attacked the Christian community five months ago. The opening in May of a permanently manned police post in the village, which until then had been covered by the Tiberias station a 20-minute drive away, has been another factor in life returning to normal. Nevertheless, tension has remained below the surface and it was in an effort to address this problem that police came up with the idea of a joint summer camp. Levy said that a secondary motto of the camp was based on an Arabic proverb that it was "better to have a good neighbour than a brother far away." "Every morning there are discussion groups on the subject of violence based on stories in the newspaper or from television reports followed by lecturesthey went on a boat trip on the Kinneret and on Tuesday afternoon are being hosted at the swimming pool of the Nahar Hayarden Hotel. Many other activities are planned for the rest of the week," Levy said. Levy said the teenagers were being hosted at the summer camp thanks to the generosity of owners and operators of attractions. Police and Civil Guard volunteers have also helped out working with the children. "The aim is for the teenagers to get to know one another, and by seeing that there are no differences between them, this will generate understanding and tolerance. It is also good for the image of the Police Force. Afterwards, the children will return to the village as emissaries with the message of no to violence. We will remain in touch with them to help reinforce that message," Levy added. Source: Israeli Media Office
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