'She’s very terrified, in a lot of pain'

Begging world to ‘return my baby,’ mother says video of hostage daughter a good sign

Keren Schem describes rollercoaster of emotions, says footage released by Hamas terror group Monday night was first confirmation that daughter survived rave massacre

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Keren, mother of Mia Schem, and representatives of the families of the abducted people held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza hold a press conference following the release of a video by Hamas, in which the 21-year-old Israeli woman is seen. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
Keren, mother of Mia Schem, and representatives of the families of the abducted people held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza hold a press conference following the release of a video by Hamas, in which the 21-year-old Israeli woman is seen. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

When Keren Schem saw her daughter Mia Schem in a video released by Hamas Monday night, she screamed. Then she watched the video again to discern what she could about her daughter’s welfare.

The video of Schem was the first sign of life the world has received from any of some 200 hostages taken from southern Israel during a bloody Hamas onslaught into southern Israel on October 7.

At a press conference Tuesday, Keren Schem said the family was heartened to see Mia alive, but expressed concern for the hostages’ welfare, calling on world leaders to intervene on their behalf.

“I beg the world to return my baby to me,” said Schem, whose daughter holds dual Israeli-French citizenship.

“I rely on everyone, this is a crime against humanity,” she said. “It’s beyond politics, it’s evil terror and inhumane. Today it’s by us and tomorrow it’s somewhere else.”

In the video, Schem’s right arm is bandaged to the elbow and someone is seen off-camera, attending to her arm. She also delivers a statement, asking to be returned to her family.

“I see that she’s very terrified, in a lot of pain, and I can see that she’s saying what they’re telling her to say,” said Schem, who had heard rumors that her daughter had been shot in the shoulder.

Schem said the family did not know if Mia was dead or alive until they saw the video Monday night. She had gone to the Supernova desert rave with her best friend, Elia Toledano, whose fate remains unknown, said Schem.

A screenshot from a clip published by the Hamas terror group on October 16, 2023, showing Mia Schem, an Israeli woman abducted by terrorists from a music festival during a massacre by Hamas gunmen on October 7, 2023. (Screenshot: X; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

“I do see in this a good sign and optimistic in terms of Mia and all our captives,” said Keren Schem. “We have to be optimistic here. I guess they are taking care of them.”

“My daughter is a fighter, she’s been through a lot in her life,” said Schem, seated at the press conference with her two sons and other family members.

In the video, Schem reports she is being looked after and that her arm was operated on for three hours at a hospital. The video ends with her plea to be returned to Israel.

“It’s a rollercoaster, it still is,” said her mother on Tuesday.

The Israel Defense Forces has termed the video “psychological terror,” and said it expects more of them to be released. According to the New York Times, metadata attached to the video file shows it was recorded six days ago.

Burnt cars are left behind at the site of the attack three days earlier by Palestinian terrorists on the Supernova desert music near Kibbutz Reim in the Negev desert in southern Israel, on October 10, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

“This is the first glimpse that Hamas gave us as a message,” said Ya’akov Peri, a former minister and Shin Bet head, who was also at the press conference. “It means that people are living, breathing and need medical help, and we place all responsibility on [Hamas] — for their personal welfare and bringing them home.”

Dr. Haggai Levine, heading the medical team for the Bring Them Home Now organization formed to represent families of those kidnapped, told the conference that Hamas was obligated to report on the medical state of all its hostages, estimated to number over 200, including the elderly and children with special needs.

“There are other sick people — to different degrees,” said Levine. “We demand to know what their status is. Anyone who is wounded can get worse from moment to moment.”

Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza since the group’s murderous infiltration of Israel on October 7, 2023, protest outside the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. October 14, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Schem said that she had attempted to reach Mia at 7 a.m. as news of the Hamas attack began spreading, but her calls went unanswered.

The New York Times reported that she eventually heard from one of the organizers of the party, a friend of her daughter’s, that Mia had sent a text message at 7:17 a.m.: “They are shooting at us, come save us.”

Schem said she is confident that Israel will do all it can to bring everyone home.

“I’m telling all other parents, think positive, you must think positive,” said Schem.

Hamas terrorists rampaged through Israeli communities and army bases near the Gaza border on the morning of October 7, killing over 1,300 people, most of them civilians. Israel has responded to the onslaught by declaring war on Hamas, carrying out waves of airstrikes in Gaza and planning a ground campaign to eliminate the terror group.

Some 2,600 Gazans have been killed in the Israeli attacks, according to Hamas, and another approximately 1,500 terrorists were killed inside Israel, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

AFP contributed to this report.

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