Hamas released videos on Saturday that mocked a deceased Israeli Defense Force soldier whose body the terrorist group has held since 2014.
In the first video, the face of Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul is superimposed on an actor, who is bound and sits cowering in front of a birthday cake with three candles, signifying three years that his body has been held by Hamas. Shaul’s face is animated to sing “Happy Birthday to You” in Hebrew with a thick Arabic accent. Afterwards, Shaul is approached by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—dressed up as a clown—who then blows out the candles on the cake. The video ends with text saying, “the decision is in the government’s hands”—an apparent attempt to goad the Israeli government into negotiating for the return of Shaul’s body.
The other video also shows a birthday celebration, with a cake on a table reading, “Oron, three years in Hamas captivity.”
The remains of Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin were captured during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Shaul was killed along with six other soldiers on July 20, when his armored personnel carrier was struck in eastern Gaza. Goldin, who was an officer in the Givati Brigade, was killed on August 1 during an operation to locate Hamas tunnels near Rafah.
The videos appear to be an effort by Hamas to pressure the Israeli government to make a deal for the release of Shaul’s remains.
IDF human resources chief Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolanski said in November that there had been no progress in efforts to retrieve Shaul and Goldin.“I hope it happens quickly, in our days,” Topolanski said, using a widely quoted term from the Bible. “But right now I don’t see a breakthrough happening.”
In October 2011, Israel released over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of them convicted on terror-related charges, to secure the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was captured in a cross-border raid by Hamas in 2006.
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