Hamas hostage Emily Hand, 9, is finally freed after 48-day kidnap hell and heads for emotional reunion with dad Tom

Hamas hostage Emily Hand, 9, is finally freed after 48-day kidnap hell and heads for emotional reunion with dad Tom

EMILY Hand has been finally released by Hamas after a seven-week kidnap hell.

The Irish-Israeli girl, who turned nine in the terror tunnels beneath Hamas’s strife-torn stronghold, was heading for an emotional reunion with her father Tom.

Emilyn Hand has finally been released from Hamas’ captive after a seven-week hell

She was snatched from bed during a sleepover at a friend’s house in Be’eri Kibbutz and taken to Gaza by the terrorists

GettyHer dad Thomas Hand was initially told she was killed in the October 7 attacks[/caption]

She was in one of the International Red Cross vehicles which crossed the border into Egypt this evening

And was a journey back from the dead for the youngster – whose dad at first believed she had been killed in the October 7 terrorist bloodbath.

She was snatched by the terrorists from bed during a sleepover at a friend’s house in Be’eri Kibbutz and taken to Gaza.

In a heartbreaking interview, Tom Hand said he was relieved Emily had died because being kidnapped by Hamas was a fate “worse than death”.

Emily was today confirmed among the women and children released by Hamas under a fragile truce deal with Israel.

Saturday was the second of a four-day ceasefire agreed upon by both Hamas and Israel, with a total of 50 hostages set to released by the terrorists in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners.

Emily’s father Tom was kept waiting for news after Hamas threw the second agreed hostage into chaos.

The 13 Israelis were supposed to be passed into the care of Red Cross teams at 4pm local time, but Hamas blocked the move and accused Israel of breaking a deal to allow in aid lorries.

Israel denied breaches and threatened to resume fighting at midnight – 10pm UK time – if the hostages were not freed.

With less than an hour to go, Red Cross officials in Gaza confirmed the handover had taken place and the group were in their way to safety in Egypt before returning home to Israel.

Anxious Tom had told The Sun hours before Emily’s dramatic release: “I’ve been told Emily is on today’s list and will be released today.

“But I won’t rest until I’ve seen her with my own eyes and held her in my arms.” 

After Emily was spotted among the freed hostages, Irish foreign affairs minister Micheal Martin said he was delighted the “bright and beautiful young girl” had been released.

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.”

Earlier Tom had said he “prays” every day he gets back his girl from the clutches of terrorists.

The grieving Irish dad, 63, was initially told she was killed in the October 7 attacks in which 1,200 innocents were slaughtered.


But he was later informed she was alive and had been kidnapped by Hamas.

Thomas, originally from Dun Laoghaire in Dublin and raised in England, was speaking alongside relatives of other kidnap victims – one of whom hailed legendary wartime PM Winston Churchill in the fight against Hamas.

Thomas said: “You don’t know if she’s being fed or watered, or what about the toilet? She probably doesn’t even have a toothbrush.

“Just the sheer terror of a nine-year-old girl, down in those dark tunnels, never seeing the light of day… the sheer terror, panic, every hour of every day.

“She must be saying, ‘Where’s my daddy? Where is my daddy? Why isn’t he coming to save me?’

“And that’s what I’m living through, that’s what we’re all living through. An absolute nightmare.”

Thomas’s heartache gripped the world last month when he told how he “smiled” after being told Emily had died because death was a better fate than being held hostage by Hamas.

Thomas, wearing a T-shirt saying “Bring them home NOW!”, was speaking at a press conference at the Israeli embassy in London.


He added: “I pray I get Emily back.

“I don’t know what condition she’s going to be in but she’s going to be broken, very broken. Mentally and physically. And we will have to fix that.”

Speaking to The Sun, Thomas held a framed copy of our powerful front page from November 2 with the faces of 32 children who are among Hamas’s 240 hostages.

He said he is struggling to sleep and eat and said: “I’m having nightmares about the conditions she is in in the tunnel.

“I imagine seeing her… I can’t go there very often. My mind at night brings me there. During the day, I have to push it away. It’s too horrible.”

Last week, her devasted family threw her an emotional birthday party as she turned nine while being held captive in Gaza.

Cakes were laid out on a table on what should have been one of the happiest days of the Irish-Israeli child’s life.

Instead, 50 members of the Israeli community gathered at a solemn vigil in London to celebrate the schoolgirl’s birthday in her absence.

There were bright-coloured balloons but party food sat uneaten on the empty seats in a powerful appeal for the hostages to be freed.


Children’s birthday music played through speakers, accompanied with chilling audio from Hamas’s October 7 terror operation — of militants shouting in Arabic and the sound of gunfire and kids screaming.

Forty plates sat on the table on a street near Trafalgar Square — each symbolising an innocent child held captive by terrorists.

It comes as Hamas fighters handed over 13 terrified Israeli women and children yesterday after holding them captive for 48 days.

The hostages were pulled from blacked-out vans by masked Hamas militants and passed over to Red Cross workers.

All 13 Israeli hostages were sent to separate hospitals across Israel, where medical staff said most of them appeared to be in good physical health.

Both sides said they would release women and children first.

The IDF said approximately 40 children are believed to be held captive by the terror group since the October 7 massacre.


And under the new truce deal, around 12 hostages are set to be released per day in phases, it has been understood.

However, moments before the ceasefire began, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) insisted the truce “is temporary” – and urged people in Gaza not to move north.

“The war is not over yet,” IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee said.

“The northern Gaza Strip is a dangerous war zone, and it is forbidden to move north.

“For your safety, you must remain in the humanitarian zone in the south.”

The IDF said troops had “completed operational preparations” ahead of the temporary ceasefire and “destroyed a route of underground terrorist tunnels and tunnel shafts” in the area of the Shifa hospital.

Palestinian civilians have been fleeing for their lives as Israel attempts to destroy Hamas after the terror group massacred 1,200 civilians on October 7.


Families living in Gaza have been caught in the brutal crossfire, with regular accusations that the terrorists are attempting to use them as “human shields”.

Much of the northern part of the strip has been turned into a devastated warzone – with ruined buildings, dwindling supplies and horrific suffering for Gaza’s people.

The Red Cross estimates that some 1.5million civilians have been forced to flee south amid the Israeli onslaught from land, air and sea.

Figures for the death toll remain unverified – but Hamas’ health officials claim more than 11,000 civilians, including more than 4,500 children have been killed.

Israel disputes these figures – and US President Joe Biden said he had “no confidence” in them.

But Benjamin Netanyahu admitted Israel has “not been successful” in reducing civilian casualties.

But he said the deaths must be blamed on Hamas – not Israel.

Emily’s devastated family threw her an emotional birthday party as she turned nine while being held captive in Gaza

The IDF says 40 children have been abducted by Hamas since the October 7 assault

The latest truce deal between Israel and Hamas will see 50 women and children freed from the terrorists captive in Gaza

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