Freed Israeli hostage Mia Schem attends Joe Biden’s State of the Union

Mia Schem at the State of the Union address (Getty Images)
Mia Schem at the State of the Union address (Getty Images)

Former Israeli hostage Mia Schem was a guest at Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech.

The 21-year-old was pictured walking to the White House before the US president addressed the nation on Thursday.

She was invited as a guest of House Speaker Mike Johnson, who previously said: “I’m proud to stand with Mia and join her in demanding the release of all the hostages still held captive by Hamas. We must continue to fight to get them home.”

Ms Schem, a tattoo artist, spent more than 50 days in captivity after she was kidnapped by Hamas during the October 7 attacks.

She said she was honoured to be invited to Washington and said she would take up the opportunity to show “gratitude for all the United States Government has done to assist the people of Israel in their time of need”.

Ms Schem made headlines as one of the first hostages to appear in a Hamas propaganda video, which showed her praising her captors for treating her injured arm.

The French-Israeli has since described going through “hell” and being treated like “an animal at the zoo” after she was taken from the Supernova music festival.

Mia Schem walking to the House chamber before Biden's speech (AP)
Mia Schem walking to the House chamber before Biden's speech (AP)

She was able to return home on November 30 as part of a temporary ceasefire deal which saw 105 hostages freed in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Israel’s offensive has left more than 30,000 Gazans dead, according to the strip’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Some 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes and UN officials say a quarter of the population is starving.

During Biden’s State of the Union speech, he sought to cool anger among many Democrats over his support for Israel's offensive in the enclave.

He announced that the US military will build a port on Gaza's Mediterranean coast to receive humanitarian assistance by sea.

"To the leadership of Israel, I say this: 'Humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip. Protecting and saving innocent lives has to be a priority,'" he said.

He also said he had been working for an immediate ceasefire to last six weeks between Hamas militants and Israel - he went on to reaffirm Israel's right to defend itself from attacks by the militant group.

A slew of Democrats and Republicans wore pins and stickers in honour of the Israeli hostages still being held captive in Gaza.

Meanwhile, several House progressives wore Palestinian keffiyehs, the black and white checkered scarfs that have come to symbolise Palestinian solidarity.

Heading to the address, Biden's motorcade took a circuitous route to the Capitol, as hundreds of pro-ceasefire demonstrators tried to disrupt its path from the White House.

Biden had initially hoped a short-term ceasefire would be in place by the speech to allow for the release of more hostages and surge sorely needed aid into the territory.

The White House blames Hamas for not yet accepting a deal brokered by the US and its allies.