Hamas Releases New Footage of Gilad Shalit in Captivity

Gilad Shalit, second from right, walks with his father Noam, right, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, left, at Tel Nof air base in central Israel in this handout released by the Prime Minister's Office, October 18, 2011. PMO/Handout/Reuters

The military wing of Palestinian militant group Hamas on Sunday released never-before-seen footage of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held hostage for five years in Gaza until 2011, barbecuing and making coffee with his captors.

The footage was broadcast on Hamas TV in the Gaza Strip by Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and shows Shalit eating with his captors, smiling while watching TV and reading letters.

The video mentions a special unit of Hamas known as the Shadow Unit, saying it was charged with guarding the Israeli captive, according to the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz. The video says the unit's job is to guard "enemy captives held by the al-Qassam Brigades, to hide them and to thwart enemy attempts to find them."

The unit "treats enemy captives honorably, in line with the rules of Islam, and provides for their needs, taking into account the treatment given to the prisoners of the resistance in the hands of the enemy," according to the video, which adds that it's called the Shadow Unit because its members "stay in the shadows, away from the light."

The video's release comes four days after Hamas published a photograph of Shalit smiling behind one of his captors, named as Abed a-Rahman al-Mubasar by Israeli publications. Al-Mubasar was killed in December when a tunnel collapsed in the coastal enclave.

Hamas captured Shalit in a cross-border raid in 2006 but released him in October 2011 in exchange for 1,027 prisoners in Israel, most of them Palestinians. All five of his alleged guards, named by the group's military chief Mohammed Deif last week, have died since Shalit's release.

Shalit's family have condemned the footage, which appears to have been aired with the aim of showing that Shalit was treated well in captivity.

In a statement released to The Times of Israel, Shalit's parents said their son's "godless captors, who held Gilad hostage, stop at nothing to present a skewed picture that in no way reflects the five and a half years he spent doing his best to survive in captivity, solitude and daily fear."