A Hamas-owned newspaper published a fabricated interview with abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit on Monday morning, with the editor confessing only at the end of the piece that it was in fact a description of a dream he had the night before.
Falasteen Editor-in-Chief Mustafa Sawwaf "quoted" Shalit in great detail throughout the interview, writing how nervous he was throughout due to the fact that the captured soldier does not speak Arabic.
Shalit has been in Palestinian captivity since he was abducted in a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip in 2006. The last sign of life that Hamas has given of Shalit was a video clip in September, in which the soldier addressed his family and held up a copy of a newspaper to prove that he had in fact been filmed on that date.
Last month, Hamas released an animated short film in which Shalit's father wakes up after dreaming that the Red Cross has returned the body of his son in a coffin after years of negotiations. The soldier's voice, as recorded in the September video clip, is audible on the animated film.
At the time, the Prime Minister's Office described the video as "crude" and accused Hamas of using it to avoid having to make decision over a prisoner swap deal.
"It is yet another despicable action aimed to help the Hamas leadership avoid making a decision regarding our offer for a prisoner swap deal which it has not responded to for many months," Netanyahu said.
"This offer, which was formulated between Israel and the Hamas with the German mediator, will enable a healthy and whole Gilad Shalit to return home to his family," added the prime minister.
The three-minute animation, shown on the website of Hamas' military wing, warns that Shalit could face the same fate as Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, whose whereabouts have been unknown since he bailed out of his plane over Lebanon in 1986.
In the cartoon, the Noam Shalit is seen walking aimlessly, before picking up a newspaper with a front-page advertisement offering a reward of $50 million for information on his son.
The advertisement was a direct reference to Israel's offer of a $10 million reward for information about Arad.
Noam Shalit, the soldier's father, described the video as focusing on psychological warfare rather than on a prisoner exchange. He is depicted in the cartoon walking the streets for years, carrying Gilad's photograph and passing posters showing former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promising to do
everything to secure his son's return.
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