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Mother pleads for 21-year-old daughter last seen at music festival in Israel to return home

An aerial picture shows the abandoned site of the weekend attack on the Supernova desert music Festival by Palestinian militants near Kibbutz Reim in the Negev desert in southern Israel on Oct. 10, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)
An aerial picture shows the abandoned site of the weekend attack on the Supernova desert music Festival by Palestinian militants near Kibbutz Reim in the Negev desert in southern Israel on Oct. 10, 2023. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

The Israeli government says Hamas took about 150 people hostage when the group invaded Israeli territory over the weekend.

One of them might be 21-year-old Adi Meisel. She has been missing since she attended a rave concert near the Gaza border on Saturday when Hamas attackers gunned down hundreds of civilians.

Adi’s mother, Ahuva Meisel, hasn’t heard from her daughter since the attack on Saturday morning, Meisel told Here & Now on Tuesday. The family tried tracking Adi’s phone, but her whereabouts remain unknown.

“My dearest daughter, my beautiful daughter, you are not alone,” Meisel says. “Everybody’s looking for you. And if you’re alive, we’re going to get to you. You can be sure of that. Just hang on, no matter what you’re going through.”

3 questions with Ahuva Meisel

What happened on Saturday?

“Friday night, she went to a party with her best friend and [at] 7:42 Saturday a.m., she called me the last time and she said that there’s a lot of shooting around her and she didn’t know exactly what she should do and how to get out of there. It sounds like a mess [on] the phone. And then she said, ‘I can’t talk anymore.’ And that’s it. We have no connection since then.

“I don’t know her situation. I don’t know if she’s alive or dead. I don’t know if she’s bleeding somewhere. I don’t know if she’s been abducted. And because almost all of Israel is a war zone now, it’s very, very difficult to get any information. So it’s a very, very difficult situation, especially when you see what they’re doing to the people they abducted. … You never know what else they can do.

“My daughter is such a wonderful girl. She’s 21 years old. She’s so beautiful in and outside. I also don’t know how, if she’s dead, how did it happen? And what were her last thoughts? How fearful was she?

“For a mother, it’s hell. I was so naive. I thought we should make peace with them. This [is a] profound crack in our hearts, in everybody, in every Israeli heart. It’s more than a thousand murders.”

Are you on social media watching what’s happening in the region?

“No, I’m trying to avoid this because it’s so confusing.

“I got some calls from Arabic numbers in Israel that in WhatsApp, I heard women scream in the background and someone says, ‘Hey, I’m Hamas and I took your daughter and she’s so beautiful.’ [It’s] tearing me apart. And like me, [there is] maybe another hundred families that don’t know what happened to their children, and they don’t know where: if they’re in captivity or in Gaza. We don’t know anything.”

Is the government of Israel helping you and other families who have loved ones who are missing? What are you hearing from the authorities trying to help you? 

“In the last two days, they established many call centers. And now we have somebody from the government who is trying to get in touch with every family and everybody’s trying to help everybody.

“Our people is so great. We really are like one heart. Everybody feels my pain and help and hugs and everything, but nothing will bring my child, not even revenge. Nothing.”


Lynn Menegon produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd MundtAllison Hagan adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.