Family learns 8-year-old Israeli-Irish girl thought killed in Hamas attack is likely a hostage

todayNovember 6, 2023 2

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The family of an eight-year-old Israeli-Irish girl who was initially believed to have been killed in Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack on southern Israel has learned that she is now thought to be alive and among the hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Irish Embassy in Israel confirmed to Irish state broadcaster RTE that it’s now believed Emily Hand was abducted, not murdered by Hamas militants during the attacks.

The little girl, who was born in Israel and has an Irish father, was at a sleepover at a friend’s house in Kibbutz Be’eri, where they both live, when the terror attack took place, according to her father, who spoke with CNN in the days right after the attack.

Her father, Thomas Hand, told CNN he went to his safe room as the sirens sounded. From there, he called his ex-wife to ask her to check on Emily.

Emily Hand is seen in a file family photo.

When he eventually emerged from his safe room, Israeli authorities told him they were sure Emily had been killed. 

“They just said ‘we found Emily, and she’s dead’,” he told CNN. Hand said he was relieved by the knowledge that his daughter was at least not in Hamas’ hands.

“I knew the alternative for my daughter. I knew she’d either be found dead or kidnapped and taken to Gaza,” he said. “The thought of a little eight-year-old child in the hands of those animals… Can you imagine the sheer horror for an eight-year-old child?”

Then last week, Israeli officials told the family that intelligence suggested there was a high chance that Emily was, in fact, still alive. The family told RTÉ News the Israeli military believed there was a “high possibility” Emily is being held hostage in Gaza and among the roughly 240 hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza.

Ireland’s embassy in Israel confirmed to Irish broadcaster RTÉ that Emily was believed to have been taken hostage rather than killed. An official from the embassy said tests had shown her DNA was not found in the ruins of Kibbutz Be’eri.

Netanyahu says no cease-fire until hostages are freed


More than 100 people were killed in the small community, which is only about three miles from the barrier separating Gaza from Israel.  

Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it was “aware of the case of Emily Hand and is providing consular assistance to her family,” but it offered no further comment.

Emily’s half-sister Natali, 26, speaking on Israeli TV, addressed the little girl directly, saying: “I want to tell you that we are doing everything to get you home. We know you are being held hostage. We love you so much and miss you.”

Thomas Hand is not Jewish and was born just outside Dublin, but he moved to Israel as a kibbutz volunteer years ago. Hand described Emily to CNN as a happy child who had a great life on the kibbutz and a love for singing and dancing, especially to Beyoncé.

It’s unclear if Emily has Irish citizenship. Hand was reportedly in the process of applying for an Irish passport for his daughter, whom he had never taken to visit his homeland.

An Irish-Israeli woman was among the first confirmed victims of the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. Kim Damti, 22, was last seen at the Supernova music festival in Re’im, not far from the kibbutz where Emily was apparently abducted.

The Irish government is among many to have issued repeated calls for a cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Deputy Prime Minister Micheál Martin has said the toll on Palestinian civilians from Israel’s retaliatory bombardment on Gaza over its Hamas rulers’ actions has been “disproportionate by any measure.”

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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