Emily Hand — the Israeli-Irish 9-year-old girl who was initially believed to have been killed by Hamas — wasfrom Gaza on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
She was released with the second batch of hostages – 13 Israelis and four Thai Nationals – after anon Friday, the first day of the temporary cease-fire.
Emily was among seven children ranging from 3 to 16, and six women ranging in age from 18 to 67, who were released in the second batch, the prime minister’s office announced.
Emily, who was 8 years old when she was abducted by Hamas during ninth birthday on Nov. 17 in captivity in Gaza.on Israel, was initially believed to be killed by the militant group. She celebrated her
Her father, Thomas Hand,before his daughter’s birthday, “The sad thing about it is, she won’t even know what day it is. She won’t know whether it’s night or day. She won’t even though it’s her birthday.”
Hand said that hisat a friend’s house at when the massacre took place. Israel said more than 100 people were killed in that community alone, among the more than 1,200 who were killed in the Hamas attack.
At the time, her father, an Irish national who is not Jewish and moved to Israel as a kibbutz volunteer three decades ago, was told by Israeli officials that his daughter had been killed. Hand toldhe was informed “she was found dead.”
At the time, Handthat Emily was at least not in Hamas’ hands.
“The thought of a little eight-year-old child in the hands of those animals… Can you imagine the sheer horror for an 8-year-old child?”
A few weeks later, however, Israeli authorities told Hand his daughter might be alive, as they didn’t find her remains at Kibbutz Be’eri.
Hand was filled with hope. He pressed governments around the world not to give up on the hostage release.
“It doesn’t matter how sick I am. It doesn’t matter how tired I am. We are going to get her back,” he told CBS News.
Emily has now been reunited with her family after 50 days in captivity in Gaza. In a statement to CBS News Saturday, her family said, “Emily has come back to us! We can’t find the words to describe our emotions after 50 challenging and complicated days.”
They added that while they are “overjoyed to embrace Emily again,” at the same time they remember “all the hostages who have yet to return.”
“We appreciate the unwavering support as we continue our efforts for the safe return of all,” the statement read.
— Elaine Cobbe and Analisa Novak contributed to this report.