Father of Hamas hostage Emily Hand, 8, fears she will be 'broken'

Father of Hamas hostage Emily Hand, 8, breaks down admitting it is ‘too painful’ to imagine the horrors she is experiencing in Gaza after once welcoming news she was killed because being kidnapped would be ‘worse than death’

  • Thomas Hand rejoiced when told daughter Emily, 8, was killed rather than kidnapped in the Hamas attack, before discovering she is a hostage in Gaza
  • The Irish-born father fears his daughter will be ‘mentally and physically and emotionally broken’ in the terrorist’s tunnels
  •  But he promises to ‘give her the world’ if the little girl returns alive  

The father of Hamas hostage Emily Hand wept as he voiced fears his eight-year-old will be ‘broken’ in the tunnels of Gaza by conditions he compared to the Holocaust.

Emily was snatched from her bed at the Kibbutz Be’eri while visiting a friend for a sleepover when thousands of armed terrorists swarmed across the nearby Gaza border on October 7.

Her father Thomas Hand rejoiced when he was initially told she was among the 1,400 killed in the attack, given the horrors awaiting the 240 hostages dragged back to Gaza.

And he fought back tears ahead of her ninth birthday on Friday as he admitted he still cannot imagine what she is going through, but he insisted he ‘can’t let my feelings interfere with getting her back’.

‘You know, she is not going to come back, none of them are going to come back the way they went in,’ he told CNN today.

‘I don’t want to think of what conditions she’s in. Could be like the cattle, train carts in the Second World War.

Thomas Hand wept as he imagined the conditions his eight-year-old daughter Emily is being held in the tunnels under Gaza after being kidnapped by Hamas on October 7

Emily, who turns nine on Friday, found herself among 240 Hamas hostages after she was snatched from her bed at the Kibbutz Be’eri while visiting a friend for a sleepover 

Hamas fighters have spent decades digging tunnels under the Gaza enclave where the hostages are thought to be held in unknown conditions  

‘They were just all in a cattle car and pee and poo where you stood.’

But he promised to ‘give her the world’ in a bid to repair the damage if she returns as backchannel negotiations over the hostages’ fate take place in Qatar.

‘They are going to be mentally and physically and emotionally broken, and that’s going to take a lot of fixing.

‘I’m not going to send her to school for at least a year. We’re going to give her the world. Just happy times. And fix her.’

He said a trip to Disney World was among his plans as he campaigns to secure her release.

‘I don’t watch the news. I haven’t got time for it. It’s just full on get it Emily back,’ he added.

Last week the Irish-born dad reflected on how he felt when Israeli authorities told him his ‘exceptional’ daughter was among the thousands caught up in the Hamas attack.

‘They said ‘We found Emily. She’s dead’, and I just went ‘Yes!’ I went ‘yes’, and I smiled, because that is the best news of the possibilities that I knew.

‘She was a little angel and she actually looked like an angel,’ Emily’s father told the Irish Times, ‘she was very, very sociable and she loved music’

Dublin-born Thomas Hand with his daughters Emily and Natali 

‘I’ll spend all my money, every penny I’ve got to give her fun to make up for everything that she’s lost and everything she’s going through,’ he told one newspaper

The Israeli 401st Brigade Combat Team claims to have uncovered this entrance to a Hamas tunnel near the Rantisi hospital in Gaza

‘I actually keep her in a special place, and I don’t want to imagine what she’s going through,’

‘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.

‘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.’

Today he said he cannot cope with the realization that his little girl is being held hostage at the heart of Hamas’s underground terror network as the battle rages around her.

‘I can’t. I actually keep her in a special place, and I don’t want to imagine what she’s going through,’ he said.

‘Every day, 38 days now. I can’t think about it. It would be too painful.

‘She is down in the tunnels of Gaza with Hamas. I don’t want to think of what conditions she’s in. How she is being treated. How she is being fed. How she is — if she has been given water. Just has she got a toothbrush?’


President Joe Biden raised hopes on Tuesday that a deal could be struck between Israel and Hamas to free the hostages in exchange for a pause in the Israeli attack on Gaza which has claimed over 11,000 Palestinian lives.

And Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said in a statement last night that negotiations were focusing on the possible release of 70 women and children in exchange for a five-day pause in the fighting, as backchannel talks continue in Qatar.

But Hand said he had ‘very, very little’ information on his daughter or what chances there are for her release.

‘I know for a fact that she’s not dead,’ he said.

‘You know for a fact that she was led away by Hamas terrorists. There are eyewitness accounts of it.

‘Someone saw her being led away. Her and her friend and her friend’s mother.’

‘You know, America has a lot of influence all over the world. If he (Biden) says that, obviously, he knows more than I do, and every little bit of information gives us hope that we can get Emily and at least the children and babies out of Gaza.’

‘We have been working non-stop to put pressure on all the governments all over the world to do their best to get, particularly my little Emily, back home,’ Hand said.

‘She is an Irish citizen, so we put a lot of pressure on the Irish government.

‘We are doing everything that we possibly can to get her home, and all the hostages. At least the children.

‘They could start off with the babies and the children.

‘They’ve got babies being kidnapped over there.’

He said the support he has received from well-wishers across the world has been ‘tremendous’ and ‘we just keep moving forward’.

‘Yeah, the campaign is viral, I suppose you’d called it, and it’s been great, the support that we’re being given,’ he said.

‘I don’t have time to look at the interviews. I don’t watch the news. I haven’t got time for it. It’s just full on get it Emily back.’

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