'High possibility' girl initially feared killed by Hamas is being held captive

Emily Hand's father had initially said he was relieved his daughter had been killed rather than taken hostage because Hamas's treatment 'worse than death'.

An Irish-Israeli girl thought to be dead following the Hamas attacks may be alive, ITV News’ John Ray reports

An Irish father who fears his eight-year-old daughter is being held hostage by Hamas has begged her captors to have some “humanity” and release the children.

Tom Hand was originally told his daughter Emily was died after the assault on Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7. However, it was reported in Israel on Sunday that the eight-year-old’s family have been informed she may still be alive and being held hostage in Gaza.

In an interview with The Group Chat podcast following the news, he pleaded with Emily’s captors to take pity and release her.

“I beg you on bended knees to please release the children, including Emily, but let’s start with the children. If you have any humanity inside of your body and soul, please release the children.”

He added: “Maybe the women later, maybe the old people later. I don’t think we will get much chance with the men but at least the children for God’s sake.

Emily Hand’s half-sister Natalie appealed for her release. / Credit: Channel 12

“Have some humanity, some pity, some humane feelings of any kind please.”

Mr Hand had initially said he was relieved when he was told his daughter had died because being held hostage in Gaza was “worse than death.”

The Hand family told RTE News that the Israeli Defense Forces now believe there is a “high possibility” Emily is being held hostage in Gaza.

Half-sister Natalie told the local broadcaster Channel 12: “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.”

She said the family had been told on October 31 that Emily may be alive.

Ireland’s minister for justice Helen McEntee said the Hand family were going through an “absolutely unimaginable” experience.

She told reporters: “Everything that can be done will be done to ensure that she is released and that she is safe.”

Ms McEntee added: “But this has been a hugely traumatic experience for her family. First, believing that she had passed away, and now potentially that not being the case.

“So I think we need to be very sensitive to the fact that this is a changing and dynamic environment for all involved.”

Tom Hand initially told CNN he felt relief when he was told his daughter had been killed rather than taken hostage

The attack on Kibbutz Be’eri left more than 100 people dead, with 70 listed as missing.

Mr Hand was told his daughter was dead two days after the attack.

He told CNN his reaction was one of relief, saying: “They just said we found Emily, she’s dead and I went, ‘yes’. I went, ‘yes’ and smiled because that is the best news of the possibilities that I knew.

“That was the best, possibly that I was hoping for. 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.

“That is worse than death. The way they treat you. 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.”

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