Asianet NewsableAsianet Newsable

Irish-Israeli girl, believed to be killed by Hamas, among hostages freed; WATCH emotional reunion with father

Initially thought to be killed during the October 7 Hamas attack, Emily Hand spent her birthday in the tunnels of Gaza after being kidnapped along with her friend and her friend's mother from the kibbutz of Be’eri in southern Israel.

Irish Israeli girl, believed to be killed by Hamas, among hostages freed; WATCH emotional reunion with father snt
Author
First Published Nov 26, 2023, 11:58 AM IST

Emily Hand, a 9-year-old Irish-Israeli girl, was among the 13 Israeli hostages released by Hamas on Saturday. Initially thought to be killed on October 7, Emily spent her birthday in the tunnels of Gaza after being kidnapped along with her friend and her friend's mother. The abduction occurred in the kibbutz of Be’eri in southern Israel.

The surprise attack by Hamas, which marked the beginning of the conflict with Israel, resulted in the capture of around 240 Israeli civilians, including Emily. Her release, along with 13 others, took place on the first day of a temporary ceasefire.

Also read: Palestinian woman released by Israel immediately calls on Hamas to shed more Jewish blood (WATCH)

Emily's father, Thomas, initially received incorrect information that she had been killed before realizing she was kidnapped. The family had last seen Emily on the evening of October 6 during dinner at the kibbutz. An eyewitness confirmed her abduction.

A video captured the emotional reunion between Emily and her father after over 50 days of captivity. Israeli military officials stood by as family members embraced each other.

Other hostages released on Saturday included Noam Or (17), Alma Or (13), Shiri Weiss (53), Noga Weiss (18), Sharon Hertzman Avigdori (52), Noam Avigdori (12), Shoshan Haran (67), Adi Shoham (38), Nave Shoham (8), Yahel Shoham (3), Hila Rotem Shoshani (13), and Maya Regev Jarbi (21). Additionally, four Thai nationals were released.

Israel slams Irish PM over statement after Hamas releases Emily Hand

On Sunday, Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy criticized Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar for his remarks regarding the release of Emily Hand.

In a statement posted on X on Saturday, Leo Varadkar said an “innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned” and “we breathe a massive sign of relief".

“Our prayers have been answered,” Varadkar said.

Responding to Varadkar's X post, Levy said Hand wasn’t “lost” but had been “brutally abducted by the death squads that massacred her neighbours".

“She wasn’t ‘found’. Hamas knew where she was all along and cynically held her as a hostage. And Hamas didn’t answer your prayers. It answered Israel’s military pressure,” Levy wrote.

“Without Israel’s military pressure on Hamas, which Ireland shamefully called ‘something approaching revenge,’ little Emily Hand would still be a hostage of Hamas. It’s not that Hamas ‘was blind, but now it sees’ (if the above statement is an allusion to Amazing Grace),” Levy added.

“This is how you describe a little girl who went missing during a stroll in a forest, then gets discovered by a friendly hiker. Not a girl brutally abducted by death squads that brutally massacred her neighbors. But this explains the extent of Ireland's contribution: prayers,” Levy wrote in another post after Emily's release.

Israel and Ireland traditionally maintain strained relations. Following Hamas' surprise attack on Israel on October 7, Varadkar expressed concern, stating, "Israel doesn't have the right to do wrong." This diverged from the prevailing narrative emphasizing Israel's right to self-defense during its bombing campaign in Gaza, controlled by Hamas.

Irish President Michael D Higgins, primarily serving in a ceremonial capacity, has voiced criticism against Israel. He accused the country of undermining international law related to the protection of civilians, describing it as being brought to "tatters."

Follow Us:
Download App:
  • android
  • ios