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The father of an eight-year-old girl from Israel, who is believed to have been taken to Gaza, is from Ireland and has requested for a renewed emphasis on the Israeli captives being held in Gaza.
Initially, it was believed that Emily Hand had perished during the attack by Hamas on Kibbutz Be’eri in Israel on October 7th.
The family of the eight-year-old has been notified that there is a possibility she is still alive and being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
On October 7th, Hamas fired numerous rockets and their fighters killed 1,400 innocent civilians in Israel. They also reportedly took around 200 other individuals hostage in Gaza.
In response to the ongoing conflict, Israel has launched missile strikes and imposed a blockade on the embattled area. This is part of a larger effort to target and disrupt Hamas’s leadership and activities.
Over 11,000 individuals have lost their lives in the area and relief organizations have cautioned about the shortage of food, water, and medicine, leading to an unparalleled humanitarian emergency.
Thomas Hand, who is from Dun Laoghaire in Dublin, referred to his daughter Emily as an enthusiastic and cheerful child who enjoys music, dancing, and singing.
“My dog also misses her. She would often use him as a pillow and fall asleep with her head resting on him. It’s interesting how we miss the smallest things, especially now that she has been taken in Gaza along with many others.”
“I long to embrace Emily once more, shower her with love and heal her.”
On Monday, he gave a speech in Dublin after traveling there with his eldest daughter Natali. He hoped to garner as much empathy and backing as he could.
Other Israeli embassies are hosting similar events to bring attention to the situation of citizens who are believed to have been abducted during the attack that occurred more than a month ago.
He envisioned the moment when he would finally be with Emily again, declaring, “I will hold onto her forever. She will never leave my side.”
He expressed his satisfaction with the Irish government’s actions to secure the release of hostages, stating they have been actively involved. He also mentioned that the Irish ambassador to Israel, Sonya McGuinness, visited them and provided whatever limited information she had.
When asked about his concerns regarding rocket attacks in Gaza while his daughter is there, he responded by saying that he believes his daughter was taken by Hamas, not the Palestinian people. He also expressed confidence that she would be safe in the tunnels with Hamas.
He stated, “I sympathize with the Palestinian people who are currently suffering due to the actions of Hamas. While they accuse us of being the occupiers, it is actually Hamas who is occupying.”
Natali Hand stated that she was in Australia at the time of the Hamas attack. She received a video call from Emily, who informed her that their friend’s house, where Natali was spending the night, was on fire.
She inquired about why I didn’t bring her to Australia.
Natali, whose mother was killed on October 7, expressed that their bodies were in pain from crying and they had no more tears to shed.
She stated that their goal was to maintain global attention on the abducted children, specifically.
She stated that they should not have to experience hardship because of political reasons, as it is unrelated.
“We will make every effort to bring her back.”
On Monday evening, Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister of Ireland, had a meeting with Mr. Hand at Government Buildings.
Afterwards, the Taoiseach stated that he promised the Hand family that the Government will make every effort to secure Emily’s release and provide assistance to the Hand family.
“I have pledged to persistently advocate for the immediate release of all hostages being held by Hamas. Furthermore, I have committed to bringing awareness to the issue of hostages through international organizations and governments, as well as any other means that may be beneficial,” he stated.
During my meeting with the Israeli Ambassador, I took the chance to address the concern of Irish-Palestinian individuals living in Gaza who have expressed a desire to exit the region.
The leader of Ireland mentioned bringing up the situation of Emily during his visit to Paris last week while meeting with Sameh Shoukry, the Foreign Minister of Egypt, Mohammad Shtayyeh, the Prime Minister of Palestine, and Prince Rashid, who serves as the top advisor to the King of Jordan and oversees Jordan’s humanitarian efforts.
Eylon Keshet shared about his relative Yarden Bibas, along with Yarden’s spouse Shiri Bibas and their two children, four-year-old Ariel and 10-month-old Kfir. They are believed to have been abducted in Gaza.
“He expressed the desire for their release and return, but stressed the need to avoid any further casualties.”
It is crucial to recognize that this is a matter of humanity – regardless of political beliefs, it is unacceptable to use a 10-month-old infant as a bargaining tool for any political or religious agenda.
According to Dana Erlich, the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, the event was a global initiative to increase awareness.
She informed PA that the visit and delegations are not only taking place in Ireland, but also in other nations.
Therefore, we are expanding our efforts to other countries in order to spread our message and invite others to join us in our cause.
While it is clear that Unicef has a presence in Gaza, there has been no mention from the organization regarding the children who have been abducted in Gaza.
The Red Cross has once again made appeals for Gaza, but we believe that our 240 kidnapped family members have been neglected. We cannot forget about them, and we hope others won’t either.
She stated that the ongoing dispute between Israel and Hamas is not a matter of choosing sides.
She stated: “We empathize with the people of Gaza, and we also empathize with our own people. We must remember that these are human lives we are discussing, on both sides.”
We must all hold Hamas responsible for their actions towards both parties.
The Irish Government has openly denounced Hamas and it is important for us to maintain this stance and hold them responsible for their actions.