GAZA STRIP - Hamas, the Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip, released a short film Sunday mocking Israeli father Noam Shalit, whose son, Sgt. Gilad Shalit, has been held captive for nearly four years.
The cartoon-like film intimated that if Israel fails to meet the group's demands, his family may never see him alive again.
Israeli television broadcast the animated three-minute film, posted on the Web site of the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades - the Hamas "military" wing.
Click here to watch the film.
Hamas terrorists captured Shalit on June 25, 2006, in a cross-border attack on an IDF outpost near the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip. The terror cell killed two soldiers, wounded three, and kidnapped Shalit, escaping back into Gaza the way they came - through a tunnel dug under the security fence.
The film - voiced in Hebrew with Arabic and English subtitles - depicted Shalit's father as a scruffy, bearded old man, wandering aimlessly through the streets, leaning on a cane, with a poster of his son. The film ends with him waking up screaming because he dreamed he saw his son's body returned in a coffin. A final caption reads, "There is still hope."
According to Hamas, the production was meant as a warning to the Israeli government to accept their demands for a prisoner swap or face the consequences, which could mean Shalit's remains returned in a coffin.
Shalit's father, who has campaigned tirelessly both in Israel and abroad for the release of his son, called the film "psychological warfare."
"Hamas leaders would do better if instead of producing films and performances, they would worry about the real interests of the Palestinian prisoners and the ordinary citizens of Gaza, who have been held hostage by their leaders for a long time," Shalit said in a statement.
Integrated into the cartoon are sound bites of Gilad Shalit's voice extracted from a short video filmed last fall to prove he is still alive. Hamas released the video clip during complex third-party negotiations for a two-stage prisoner swap of 1,000 Palestinians in exchange for Shalit.
In response to the film, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the "Hamas leadership's cynical use of the Shalit family's sensitivities…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," he said.
AP contributed to this report.