On October 16, 2023, Hamas, a Palestinian group operating in the Gaza Strip, released footage of 21-year-old Mia Schem, an Israeli woman who was kidnapped during a horrific assault in southern Israel. In the video, Schem, seen with a bandaged arm, pleads for her release and return to her family.

Details of the Kidnapping

Mia Schem was attending a desert rave in Kibbutz Re’im on October 7, 2023, when Hamas gunmen stormed the event, leading to the death of over 260 attendees. This incident was part of a broader attack that resulted in the death of over 1,300 people, predominantly civilians. The Hamas group has claimed to have between 200-250 hostages in the Gaza Strip following the assault.

Mia’s family expressed relief after seeing the footage, indicating she is alive. However, it is noteworthy that The New York Times reported metadata analysis suggesting parts of the video were shot at least six days earlier.

Political Implications

Interestingly, Schem’s dual citizenship, as she is also a French national, seems to be a factor in her being showcased. It appears Hamas aims to communicate to international viewers that they are not harming foreign nationals. This tactic has drawn criticism, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stating that Hamas aims to “present itself as a humanitarian organization” despite its track record.

The IDF remains vocal about its commitment to securing the release of the hostages. In response to the video, they reiterated their stance against Hamas, condemning their actions and highlighting the group’s responsibility for numerous kidnappings and murders.

Mother’s Plea and International Involvement

The emotional turmoil endured by the families of the hostages was palpably captured when Mia’s mother, Keren Shem, spoke to the media. Emphasizing that her daughter had merely attended a party, she expressed her anguish over the uncertainty surrounding Mia’s well-being until the release of the video. Keren Shem urgently appealed for the safe return of her daughter and all others held captive.

French President Emmanuel Macron has also weighed in on the situation, condemning the hostage-taking. He stated that using hostages for blackmail is “odious and unacceptable.” France is currently collaborating with Israeli authorities and intermediaries to facilitate the release of the hostages.