Hamas releases first hostage video showing injured French-Israeli woman abducted from music fest

A senior leader of the group said it has 'what it needs' to free all Palestinian prisoners in Israel, calls non-Israeli captives' guests'

By Reuters

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Israeli soldiers inspect the site of a music festival near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, Friday. Oct. 13, 2023. Photo: AP
Israeli soldiers inspect the site of a music festival near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, Friday. Oct. 13, 2023. Photo: AP

Published: Tue 17 Oct 2023, 9:24 AM

Last updated: Tue 17 Oct 2023, 12:38 PM

The Hamas released a video on Monday showing a statement from one of the captives seized in last week's devastating attack on Israel.

In the footage, the woman, whose injured arm is shown being treated by an unidentified medical worker, identifies herself as 21-year-old Mia Schem and asks to be returned to her family as quickly as possible. Mia was attending the Supernova Sukkot Music Festival when Hamas operatives attacked the gathering.

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A representative of the family, which was among a group of French families that appealed last week to President Emmanuel Macron to help free their missing relatives, confirmed her identity to Reuters.

At least 199 Israelis and foreigners were seized by Hamas gunmen and taken captive in the attack, which killed 1,300 people, the largest number of dead in a single day in Israel's 75-year history.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

The Israeli military issued a statement, saying it was in constant touch with Schem's family and condemning Hamas as a "murderous terrorist organisation". It said it was using "all intelligence and operational measures" for the return of the captives.

"In the video, Hamas is trying to portray itself as a humane organisation, while it is a responsible for the murder and abduction of babies, women, children, and elderly," it said.

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

A top Hamas leader said the group "has what it needs" to free all Palestinians in Israel's jails, indicating the militant group may try to use the Israelis it kidnapped as bargaining chips to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Soon after Hamas official Khaled Meshaal made the remarks on the captives, who include Israelis and non-Israelis kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7, the group's armed wing separately said the non-Israelis were "guests" who would be released "when circumstances allow".

Another senior Hamas official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said on Monday that "foreign prisoners cannot be released due to the continued Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip."

Hamas, which like other factions has long called for the release of the roughly 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, "has what it needs to empty the prisons of all prisoners," Meshaal, a former Hamas chief who now heads its diaspora office in Doha, told AlAraby TV.

In 2011, Israel swapped hundreds of Palestinian prisoners to win the release of one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was held for five years. That kind of exchange - which at the time was criticised by some Israelis as too lopsided - looks an impossible bargain with dozens of people being held.

Israel, which has bombarded Gaza with strikes that have killed hundreds of Palestinians, has said it would act to free the hostages while eliminating Hamas.

The captives are believed to include nationals of countries including Thailand and Germany. Other countries have reported their citizens as missing. Israelis with dual nationality in countries including the U.S. are also believed to have been kidnapped.


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