JERUSALEM — Hamas released a cartoon video showing captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit returning to Israel in a coffin.
The animated video, released Sunday, shows Shalit’s father, Noam, wandering deserted streets looking at billboard after billboard of Israeli leaders promising to work for his son’s release. He is finally shown, having aged by many years, waiting at the Erez checkpoint for the return of his son. As Noam Shalit shouts “No!” at the sight of the flag-draped coffin, he jerks awake inside a protest tent and realizes it is a dream. “There is still hope,” reads the closing caption of the video, followed by the symbol for Hamas.
The cartoon appeared on the Web site of Hamas’ armed wing, Izzadin A-Qassam Brigades, and was distributed to Israeli television stations. It was released on day 1,400 of Shalit’s captivity.
The cartoon is seen as an effort to increase public pressure in Israel for a deal with Hamas to bring Shalit, who was taken captive in a 2006 raid, home.
“Hamas would do better to concern itself with the true interests of the Palestinian prisoners and the citizens of Gaza, who have become hostages of their leaders, instead of putting on films and displays,” Noam Shalit said in response.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office released a statement saying, “This is another deplorable action by Hamas designed to assist its leadership in avoiding a decision regarding the mediation offer. For months, Hamas’ leaders have avoided responding to the proposal for a humanitarian deal, which was tabled by the German mediator, under Egyptian aegis. This proposal, which was formulated vis-à-vis both sides, would bring about the immediate return of Gilad Shalit, safe and sound, to his family and his people.”
Last October, Hamas released an actual video showing Shalit in captivity, talking to the camera and apparently in good health.