A Heartfelt Reunion: Emily Hand Embraced by Father in Israel
In a joyous turn of events, nine-year-old Emily Hand, an Irish-Israeli girl, has been reunited with her father after being held hostage by Hamas since the October 7 attacks in Israel.
Release Amidst a Larger Deal
Over the weekend, militants freed Emily and several others, marking a significant moment in a deal that also secured the release of Palestinians held in Israel. The Israeli Defence Forces shared emotional video footage capturing Emily running into her father Thomas’s arms.
A Sleepover Turned Nightmare
Emily and her friend Hila, 13, were abducted during a Hamas attack while at a sleepover in Kibbutz Be’eri. Hila has also been released, but Raya Rotem, Hila’s mother, remains in captivity in Gaza.
Overwhelming Gratitude from Father
Thomas Hand, originally from Dun Laoghaire in Dublin, expressed immense gratitude for the support his family received. He thanked everyone who stood by them during the 50 days until Emily’s return and spoke of their overwhelming joy at embracing Emily once again.
A Long-Awaited Hug and Birthday Celebration
Thomas, looking forward to giving Emily a massive hug, shared plans to welcome her home with her beloved dog, Johnsie, and a celebration, aiming to make up for the birthday she spent in captivity.
International Reactions and Hope for Peace
Leaders in Ireland, including President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and Tanaiste Micheal Martin, welcomed the news. President Higgins acknowledged the ordeal faced by Emily’s family, expressing hope for her happy and fulfilling life. Taoiseach Varadkar emphasized the need for a durable ceasefire, the release of remaining hostages, and a commitment to building lasting peace.
Relief and Continued Concern
Varadkar noted the collective relief felt in Ireland and stressed the importance of not forgetting the others still in captivity. He urged efforts towards a permanent ceasefire and a just, lasting peace in the troubled region.
Delight Over Emily’s Release
Tanaiste Micheal Martin expressed delight at Emily’s release, commending her father’s strength and determination. He highlighted Ireland’s international engagement to secure Emily’s return and the ongoing commitment to work for peace in the region.
Re-reported from the article originally published in The independent News