Irish-Israeli girl Emily Hand reunited with father Thomas

Irish-Israeli Girl Emily Hand Reunited With Father Thomas
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Updated 09:02

Nine-year-old Irish-Israeli girl Emily Hand has finally been reunited with her dad, Thomas.


The second hostage exchange between Israel and Hamas went ahead late last night after an agonising delay for the families of those now freed.

Israel allowed 39 Palestinians to leave two prisons as part of the truce deal, while 17 hostages from the Gaza Strip were freed by Hamas.

It is day three of the four-day truce agreement, however there have been reports of a shooting by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank overnight.

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and President of Ireland Michael D Higgins have all welcomed the news of Emily's release overnight.


Her father was overcome with emotion as he finally got to embrace his little girl.

Emily Hand is understood to be have been held hostage by militants in Gaza after being captured in the Hamas attack on Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7th.

Her father Thomas, originally from Dún Laoghaire in Co Dublin, last week made an emotional appeal for her release, saying the family was living through a “nightmare”, and getting Emily back was his “reason for living”.

Emily turned nine last month while in captivity.


Her family in Ireland held a birthday party for her at St Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the news was an enormous joy and relief. "An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned, and we breathe a massive sigh of relief," he said on X.

Tánaiste Micheal Martin said he was delighted that Emily, “a bright and beautiful young girl”, has been released and will be reunited with her family.

In a statement on Saturday evening, he said: “After weeks of trauma, this is a precious and deeply moving moment for the Hand family.

“The people of Ireland have been touched by Emily’s story, her innocence and the quiet dignity and determination of her father Tom.”

TV images on Saturday night showed Red Cross vehicles at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Emily's release came after a brief delay and obstacle to the hostage release, which was overcome through Qatari-Egyptian contacts with both sides. Some 39 Palestinian civilians are set to be released in exchange.

US president Joe Biden spoke to Qatar emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on the hold-up over the hostage deal, a White House official said.

About three hours after their call, the White House learned from the Qataris that the agreement was back on and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was moving to collect the hostages. – Additional reporting: Reuters

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