TEL AVIV – Psychological warfare is shaping up to be a vital component of Hamas fight against Israel.
In an effort to increase pressure on Israel to agree to a prisoner swap in return for the freedom of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who has been held by Hamas since his capture in 2006, the militant group released an animated video on Sunday.
The video depicts the aging of Noam Shalit, Gilad's father, as Israeli politicians continue to promise his son's return.
|VIDEO: Hamas video shows family of captured soldier|
In the three-minute video, Noam Shalit is shown mournfully holding a framed picture of his son as he walks down a deserted street lined with political billboards. One billboard shows an image of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with a caption saying, "I promise to find out the fate of Gilad Shalit."
Noam keeps walking while a soundtrack plays with his son's voice saying, "To my father, mother I send you from prison my warmest regards. I miss you all." He then passes by another poster showing a picture of the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a caption saying, "I promise to release Gilad Shalit."
He then stops and finds a newspaper in a trash can with a picture of his son on the front page along with another captured soldier, Ron Arad, who is widely believed to have died in captivity. The newspaper advertises a cash money reward for any information about the two missing soldiers. At this point Noam's figure transforms into an old man walking with a cane.
Finally the father sits down at a bus stop, a van stops near him and begins unloading a coffin wrapped in an Israeli flag. He stands up and a chilling scream is heard. The video ends with Noam waking from this nightmare and a Hebrew caption saying, "There is still hope."
The goal of the video is clear – to mobilize the Israeli public to put pressure on their political leaders to make a prisoner swap deal with Hamas to ensure Gilad Shalit's release.
But, predictably, the video has received harsh criticism from Israelis – especially Noam Shalit.
"It's best if Hamas leaders would focus less on videos and presentations and would be more concerned about the interests of their prisoners and the public in Gaza," Noam Shalit told the popular Israeli Internet site Ynet.com.
Shimshon Liebman, the leader the campaign to free Gilad Shalit, criticized the video and said Hamas should, "Stop playing with people, be brave enough to do the right thing and you'll get hundreds of prisoners back."
Likewise, the Israeli government dismissed the video as offensive. "For months Hamas has refused to respond to the humanitarian proposals of the German mediator. With the release of this disgraceful video, designed to play on the pain of the Shalit family, Hamas is demonstrating before the entire world its terrorist and hateful character," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.