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Mother of French Gaza hostage demands ceasefire

Orion was at the Tribe of Nova music festival when Hamas attacked Israel on October 7
— Labastide-Saint-Georges (France) (AFP)

Marie-Pascale Radoux has been waiting for three months for news of her son, Orion, still believed held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip after their October 7 attack in Israel.

A painter living near Toulouse in southwest France, Radoux urged Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas to reach "a ceasefire, or at least a truce, to allow hostages to be freed".

"There has to be a ceasefire, for the hostages, the civilians, the children, the families, all the hundreds and hundreds of innocent people," the 62-year-old added in an interview with AFP.

"That's what we're asking (Benjamin) Netanyahu," Radoux said in reference to the Israeli prime minister.

On December 13, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly backed a non-binding resolution calling for a ceasefire but the Israeli premier has ruled that out until Hamas is, in his words, "eliminated".

"I also ask Hamas to take care of my son because he had physical frailties," Radoux added in a worried voice.

Sometimes Radoux notices herself speaking about Franco-Mexican Orion in the past tense, before correcting herself.

"It's because it's been such a long time already," she said.

Hardest to bear for Radoux is the lack of any sign of life from her 32-year-old son.

"My anxiety has really intensified recently. I'm doing worse and worse, because..."

She pauses, drawing her blue-green scarf tighter around her shoulders as if to protect herself from the outside world.

- Anger and nightmares -

"There are no words to explain what you feel... from anger to sadness, anxiety, fear, nightmares."

Orion Hernandez Radoux was attending the Tribe of Nova music festival when Hamas entered southern Israel fromt he Gaza Strip on October 7.

Marie-Pascale Radoux has been waiting for three months for news of her son

Some 1,140 people were killed in the attack, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on the Israeli count.

Israel's relentless bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza have killed more than 23,000 people there, most of them women and children, according to the besieged territory's Hamas-run health ministry.

The day of the attack, Orion tried to flee but was caught and taken by the militants into Gaza.

He is believed to still be a prisoner.

But while Orion is named on Israel's official hostage list -- still numbering 132 -- his mother has had no proof that he is still alive.

Her only thread of hope is a phone call from Hamas received by friends of her son "which said that he was doing fine, that we shouldn't worry, that he was with them and they wouldn't mistreat him".

That has been little comfort to Radoux, who has been turning over every stone to have her son found or freed -- or at least to finally confirm he is alive.

- 'Do something every day' -

"As long as I know I can do something for him every day, that keeps me on my feet," she said, her French slipping into the Spanish idioms she picked up during her 25 years in Mexico.

"The days when nothing happens are terrible," Radoux added. "Hyperactivity keeps you from not slipping into fear and anxiety."

Her paintings have fallen by the wayside. A canvas depicting a wolf on a black background stands untouched in the laundry room she uses as a studio.

Normally "painting... lets you get through moments like this", she said -- but she now simply has no time for her art.

Another vital support comes from "messages full of hope" from her son's many friends.

"It helps to know there are so many people waiting and wishing for his return," Radoux said.

"The longer it takes, the harder it gets and most of all people can forget there are hostages" still in the hands of Hamas, she said.

"We're going to do everything we can to make sure they aren't forgotten."