This year, Hamas celebrated the occasion with a rally on Sunday in the central Gaza square near the Islamic University to celebrate the anniversary.
At the peak of the rally, two Hamas actors ascended the podium with loudspeakers blaring, dragging another young Hamas actor who was dressed in an Israeli army uniform.
He fell to his knees, burying his head in his hands and weeping.
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“Father, mother, I miss you,” he said in Hebrew, to the laughter of the mass audience.
Applause shook the square in Gaza City.
The show depicting the 2006 kidnapping of Gilad Shalit was intended not only to mock Israel and entertain the Palestinian audience, but to insult every Israeli who waits for the the kidnapped soldier’s return.
The play began with a scene involving a Hamas convict in an Israeli prison and his father awaiting him in Gaza.
While the two were exchanging words of greeting and longing, Hamas operatives in camouflage fatigues and Hamas green hats came on stage holding an actor who played Gilad Shalit.
“What am I doing here? You’re abandoning me,” the “soldier” said in Hebrew. “Father, mother, I send regards. I send regards to Mother and Father. I say to Olmert, why are you delaying [the release] of the soldier, the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.” â€¨
One of the Hamas operatives turned to the actor playing Cpl. Shalit. â€¨“What will you tell them?” he asked, and the actor replied: “I miss Mother and Father. What am I doing here? I want to return.”
At this stage, the “prisoner” and his father tried to attack “Gilad Shalit,” and the Hamas militiamen protected him.
The organization thereby tried to convey the message that it was keeping the kidnapped soldier safe.
A journalist present at the rally told the Israeli media that at first he was convinced that this was the real Gilad Shalit.
“He looked young like him,” the journalist said. “Our feeling was that Hamas was mocking Israel. The audience enjoyed the show.”
The huge show of force painted Gaza green, the color of Islam.
The large podium was decorated with flowers. On one side stood a large picture of former Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was killed by Israeli troops in March 2004, and on the other a picture of Hamas Political Bureau Director Khaled Mashal. In the center was a huge slogan: “Jerusalem, we are coming to you.”
The Hamas rally began with the chilling show about Gilad Shalit, and then came the stage of the speeches.
“Hamas is strong today, in the days of the harsh siege, much more than it was before, because it derives its strength from Allah,” said Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
He addressed the outgoing American president: “Bush, you lost, but our weapons did not stop working. You failed, but Hamas did not fall.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was also the object of mockery. “Our answer to â€¨her,” said Mr. Haniyeh, “will be the Hamas women and the Palestinian women.”
Mr. Haniyeh used the opportunity to announce a series of gestures towards the residents of Gaza, including a 5 percent raise in the salary of teachers and a plan to build a national stadium in Gaza.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.