‘We’re waiting for you, we love you’
It is still unclear how many hostages are held in Gaza. A spokesperson for Hamas’ military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, said in a video statement on Monday the number was at least between 200-250.
The spokesperson, Abu Obaida, said the Al-Qassam Brigades held about 200 hostages, while the rest was held by other “militant formations” in Gaza, adding that they cannot determine the exact number of hostages in the strip at this stage due to constant Israeli bombardment.
The IDF has been relentlessly pounding Gaza with airstrikes and artillery following the deadly Hamas terror attack. Palestinian news agency WAFA reported on Monday that more than 2,800 people have been killed in Gaza.
Earlier on Monday, the Israeli military said at least 199 people were being held hostage in Gaza. The IDF said it was using “all intelligence and operational means to return the abductees” and that “Hamas is trying to present itself as a humanitarian organization while acting as a hideous terrorist organization responsible for killing and kidnapping infants, women, children and the elderly.”
Meanwhile, Abu Obaida claimed 22 of the hostages in Gaza were killed in Israeli airstrikes, including an Israeli artist whom he said lost his life on Saturday. CNN cannot independently verify those claims.
Abu Obaida added that the Al-Qassam Brigades will be releasing hostages holding foreign citizenship when “the opportunity arises on the ground,” and said Al-Qassam is “committed” to protecting them.
Schem was kidnapped from the Nova festival near the Gaza Strip after Hamas fighters launched a terror attack last Saturday that so far killed at least 1,400 people.
At least 260 people were found dead is the site of the festival, according to the IDF.
Scharf Schem said her daughter had messaged a friend who was also at the festival at 7:17 a.m. on Saturday morning saying, “They are shooting at us please come save us.”
Calling her daughter the “heart of the family” Scharf Schem described Mia as a caring sibling and “her best friend.”
“Mia if you can see us, we want to tell you from all the family and all the people in Israel,” Schem’s brother Eli Schem told CNN. “We’re waiting for you, we love you, and we are going to do anything to bring you back home.”
CNN’s Kareem El Damanhoury, Kareem Khadder, Lindsay Isaac, Anderson Cooper, Teele Rebane, Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.