Emily Hand turned nine years old as a Hamas prisoner on Friday, exactly six weeks after the terror group launched a surprise incursion into Israel and slaughtered 1,200 people, mostly civilians.
Her father, Irish-born Thomas Hand, previously believed that she had died after a unit of Hamas terrorists killed over 130 people at Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7, where she was staying for a sleepover at her friend’s home.
He previously said he was glad to hear that she was dead, because he was petrified of how she may have been treated by Hamas.
At a press conference in London today, Mr Hand said he believed she was facing ‘sheer terror and panic every hour of every day.’
‘She must be saying every day: “Where’s my daddy? Where’s my daddy, why isn’t be coming to save me?”.’
‘She must be saying every day: “Where’s my daddy? Where’s my daddy, why isn’t be coming to save me?”,’ Thomas Hand said
Mr Hand, who was told late last month by Israeli authorities that Emily was in fact still alive, said he was worried about the mental and physical toll being a hostage would take on his young daughter
Thomas Hand was joined at London’s Israel Embassy by a series of other relatives of kidnapped victims
He told reporters at the press conference, at which family members of kidnapped relatives pleaded for their loved ones’ safe return: ‘That’s what I’m living through, that’s what we’re all living through. A nightmare, an absolute nightmare.’
Hand, who was told late last month by Israeli authorities that Emily was in fact still alive, said he was worried about the mental and physical toll being a hostage would take on his young daughter.
‘I don’t know what condition she’s gonna be in, but she’s gonna be broken, very broken, mentally and physically, and we’ll have to fix that,’ he said.
‘It’s gonna take a long time to fix that. That’s what we’ve got to do, and we will do it, no matter how long it takes.
‘That’s my prime focus, my reason for living, for getting up in the morning every day.
‘Because believe me, I just want to stay in bed and just… go to sleep and forget it all.
‘But for Emily, I have to get up and do everything that I can to get Emily back and all the children and the babies, 38 of them.’
Her father, Irish-born Thomas Hand, said that he was glad to hear that she was dead as he was terrified of how she would have been treated by Hamas terrorists
Pictured: Emily Hand. The nine-year-old girl had stayed the night at a friend’s house on Friday, her father Thomas said. For 12 hours while the kibbutz was under siege, he did not know the fate or whereabouts of his little girl
Irish-born Thomas Hand with his daughters Emily and Natalie (pictured, right)(
Israeli officials told the Hand family that Emily was likely somewhere in the besieged Gaza Strip, after they spent over a month believing she was dead
Israeli officials told the Hand family that Emily was likely somewhere in the besieged Gaza Strip, after they spent over a month believing she was dead.
Her older sister, Natalie, told Israeli media: ‘We were told that she had been murdered. We were in mourning.
‘On October 31, they told us that it was highly likely that she had been abducted.’
When Natalie was asked whether she had anything she wanted to say to Emily, on the off-chance she could be listening, she said: ‘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, who was born in the coastal town of Dún Laoghaire in the Republic of Ireland, said in an interview with CNN just days after Hamas’ brutal attack against Israel: ‘[Israeli authorities] said, “We found Emily. She’s dead,” and I just went “Yes!” I went “yes”, and I smiled, because that is the best news of the possibilities that I knew.
‘She was either dead, or in Gaza. And if you know anything about what they do to people in Gaza, that is worse than death,’ he said.
‘They’d have no food. They’d have no water. She’d be in a dark room filled with Christ knows how many people, and terrified every minute, hour, day, and possible years to come. So death was a blessing. An absolute blessing.’
The press conference with the families of hostages comes just days after Israeli troops revealed they found the bodies of two hostages near a tunnel shaft at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, that they believe was used by Hamas.
Hamas’s tunneling infrastructure has been exposed around Gaza’s AI-Shifa hospital
The IDF revealed evidence of weaponry which it said proved the hospital was a terrorist base
IDF troops belonging to the Shaldag Unit, the 7th Brigade, and additional special units continue are continuing to conduct targeted activity in the Shifa Hospital
The IDF released a video it said showed a tunnel entrance in an outdoor area of Al-Shifa hospital, two days after Israeli troops entered its grounds to hunt for a Hamas command centre they say is beneath the medical facility.
During the raid, Israel said its troops found the bodies of two hostages – Yehudit Weiss, 64, and Israeli soldier Noa Marciano, 19 – from a building adjacent to the hospital.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed there were ‘strong indications’ that hostages were held at the hospital but they were no longer there when the facility was raided.
‘We had strong indications that they were held in the Shifa Hospital, which is one of the reasons we entered the hospital,’ he told CBS Evening News. ‘If they were (there), they were taken out.’
Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry today claimed that a shell hit the second floor of the Indonesian Hospital, killing at least 12 people and a medical worker, as part of the IDF’s effort to clear medical facilities across Gaza that it claims are being used by Hamas as cover.
Heavy fighting broke out around the Indonesian Hospital, which has housed thousands of patients and displaced people for weeks.
The fighting came a day after the World Health Organisation evacuated 31 premature babies from Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the enclave’s largest, where they were among more than 250 critically ill or wounded patients stranded there days after Israeli forces entered the compound.
Israel says Hamas uses civilians and hospitals as shields, while critics say Israel’s siege and relentless aerial bombardment amount to collective punishment of the territory’s 2.3 million Palestinians after Hamas’ October 7 incursion into southern Israel.
More than 11,500 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children, have been killed since the war began, according to Palestinian health authorities, who do not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths, while around 2,700 people are reported missing.
Some 1,200 people have been killed in Israel, mostly during the Oct. 7 attack, and around 240 were taken captive by militants.