Hamas Releases First Hostage Video, Family Begs World To Intervene

Hamas fighters in Gaza City (Getty Images)
October 17, 2023

The family of a 21-year-old French-Israeli woman seized by Hamas during its surprise attack on Israel last week appealed for her release on Tuesday after the Islamist group released a video showing her alive.

In the footage released by Hamas late on Monday, Mia Schem, whose injured arm is shown being treated by an unidentified medical worker, identifies herself and asks to be returned to her family as quickly as possible.

"I saw that she was in stable condition but I am very worried about her," her mother Keren Schem told reporters at a press conference, holding a photo of her daughter, who was seized at a dance party, along with many of the other hostages abducted into Gaza.

"I'm begging the world to bring my baby back home. She only went to a party, to a festival party, to have some fun and now she's in Gaza."

Israel says 199 hostages were taken to Gaza during the militants' raid last week, which killed 1,300 people, the largest number of dead in a single day in Israel's 75-year history.

The video of Schem was the first such footage released by Hamas since the attack and comes ahead of what is expected to be a major ground operation in Gaza by Israeli forces, which have bombarded the enclave for days, killing more than 2,700 Gazans.

"This is psychological warfare," an Israeli Army spokesman said of the video. "With the goals of this war to dismantle Hamas, the hostages remain a key priority in balancing our efforts."

The Israeli military has said it was in constant touch with Schem's family and was using "all intelligence and operational measures" for the return of the captives, whose presence at unknown locations in Gaza will greatly complicate any operation.

"Now she is in Gaza, and she is not the only one," Keren Schem said. "There are many children who went to this party, there are many babies, and children, and old people, and Holocaust survivors that were kidnapped," she said.

"This is a crime against humanity, and we should all gather, and stop this terror, and bring everybody back home."

France's foreign ministry on Tuesday described the video as vile. It said 21 French nationals were killed and another 11 remained missing.

"Several are very likely hostages of Hamas. This is the case of a national, whose vile staging by Hamas in a video France condemns," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Hamas's armed wing said non-Israelis kidnapped on Oct. 7, were "guests" who would be released "when circumstances allow."

Commenting on the video, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday there was no question in his mind that the female hostage in the video appeared under duress, and the United States was working very hard to secure their release.

"It's a propaganda video much more than it is proof-of-life," he told NBC News's Today program on Tuesday. "It's reprehensible. All of these hostages need to be back with their families right now."

(Reporting by James Mackenzie, Roleen Tafakji, and Rami Amichay; additional reporting by John Irish in Paris and Susan Heavey in Washington; editing by David Gregorio, Alexandra Hudson)

Published under: Hamas , Israel