French-Israeli Mia Schem, 21, who was kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, was released on Thursday afternoon, the Israeli military said.
Mia Schem was freed alongside another hostage as part of the truce agreement between Hamas and Israel. Both are "safe and sound" and "in Israeli territory," Colonel Olivier Rafowicz, spokesman for the Israeli army, told BFMTV.
תמונות ראשונות: העברת שתי החטופות הישראליות בעזה, בהן מייה שם בת ה-21, לידי הצלב האדום pic.twitter.com/MoYL4YzBHd
— החדשות - N12 (@N12News) November 30, 2023
"She's an amazing girl"
The young woman with the big blue eyes was kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 while she was taking part in the Tribe of Nova trance music festival in the heart of the Negev desert, bordering the Gaza Strip.
According to her mother, Keren Schem, met by France 24 on October 16, Mia and her friends had tried to flee by car when the first rockets began raining down on the site. The terrorists then targeted the tires to force them out of the vehicle and chased them. "When she sent her last message, she was hurt. Some say to the shoulder, others to the leg," she said at the time.
Read alsoHamas hostages: "I beg you, bring me my baby alive
Mia Schem's face then went around the world in mid-October when the Islamist group posted a video of her on its Telegram channel. It was the first proof of life of a hostage since the attacks.
She could be seen, wounded in the arm, being treated, articulating, her face livid, a few sentences probably dictated by her captors: "My name is Mia Shem, I am 21 years old and I come from Shoham. I am currently in Gaza. [...]," she said. "They take care of me, give me medicine, everything is fine. I ask you to take me home as soon as possible, to take me back to my family. Please get us out of here as soon as possible," she pleaded.
When her daughter's release was announced, Keren Scharf Schem burst into tears, as can be seen on Israeli television.
"It's the most beautiful day in the world, she's an amazing girl. I'm not going to let go of her this time. I cut myself off from everyone for two months, but this time I'm not going to give up until all the kidnapped people come back," his father, David, told Israeli media outlet N12. "First her mom will jump on her and then I'll come and hug her. But I don't want to ask questions, I don't know what she's been through."
Before October 7, Mia Schem lived with her mother and three siblings in the city of Moshav-Mazor, east of Tel Aviv. She had just started her military service – which is compulsory in Israel – and dreamed of becoming a tattoo artist, her family explained on the website set up to raise funds.
"A great joy"
"Mia Schem is free. It is a great joy that I share with his family and all the French people," Macron said. "I also express my solidarity with all those who remain hostages of Hamas. France is working with its partners to secure their release as soon as possible," he said.
Mia Schem is free.
It is a great joy that I share with his family and all French people.
I also express my solidarity with all those who remain hostages of Hamas. France is working with its partners to secure their release as soon as possible.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) November 30, 2023
Mia Schem is the fourth French hostage to be freed as part of the truce between Israel and Hamas. The other three were released on 27 November.
This week's recapFrance 24 invites you to look back on the news that marked the week
Take international news with you wherever you go! Download the France 24 app