The father of Hamas hostage Emily Hand wept as he expressed fears that his eight-year-old would be “broken” in the Gaza tunnels by circumstances he likened to the Holocaust.
Emily was ripped from her bed in Kibbutz Be’eri while visiting a friend for a sleepover when thousands of armed terrorists flooded the nearby Gaza border on October 7.
Her father Thomas Hand was pleased when he was initially told she was among the 1,400 killed in the attack, given the horrors that awaited the 240 hostages dragged back to Gaza.
And he fought back tears ahead of her ninth birthday on Friday, as he admitted he still can’t imagine what she’s going through, but insisted he can’t “let my feelings interfere with getting her back.”
“You know, she’s not coming back, none of them are going to come back the way they came in,” he told CNN today.
‘I don’t want to think about the circumstances she is in. It could look like the cattle, the train carts in World War II.
Thomas Hand wept as he imagined the conditions in which 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 in Kibbutz Be’eri while visiting a friend for a sleepover
Hamas fighters have spent decades digging tunnels under the Gaza enclave, where hostages are believed to be being held under unknown conditions.
“They all just sat in a cattle truck and peeed and pooped where you stood.”
But he vowed to “give her the world” in a bid to repair the damage if she returns while backchannel negotiations over the fate of the hostages take place in Qatar.
“They will be broken mentally, physically and emotionally, and that will take a lot of healing.
‘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 campaigned to secure her release.
‘I don’t watch the news. I don’t have time for it. It’s just pressure to get Emily back,” he added.
The Irish-born father 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 said, ‘Yes!’ I said “yes”, and I smiled, because that is the best news about the possibilities I knew.
“She was a little angel and she actually looked like an angel,” Emily’s father told the Irish Times, “she was very sociable and she loved music.”
Dublin-born Thomas Hand with his daughters Emily and Natali
“I will spend all my money, every cent I have, to give her joy to make up for everything she has lost and everything she is going through,” he told a newspaper.
Israel’s 401st Brigade Combat Team claims to have uncovered this entrance to a Hamas tunnel near Gaza’s Rantisi Hospital
“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’re doing to people in Gaza, it’s worse than death.
“They wouldn’t have any food. They would have no water. She would be in a dark room, filled with Christ knows how many people, terrified every minute, hour, day and possible years.
‘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 not do it. “I actually keep her in a special place, and I don’t want to imagine what she’s going through,” he said.
‘Every day, now 38 days. I can’t think about it. It would be too painful.
“She is in the Gaza tunnels with Hamas. I don’t want to think about what circumstances she is in. How she is treated. How she is fed. How she’s doing — if she’s been given water. Does she just have a toothbrush?’
President Joe Biden expressed hope on Tuesday that a deal could be reached between Israel and Hamas to free the hostages in exchange for a pause in Israel’s assault on Gaza, which has claimed more than 11,000 Palestinian lives.
And Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said in a statement last night that negotiations focused on the possible release of 70 women and children in exchange for a five-day break in fighting while backchannel talks in Qatar continue.
But Hand said he had “very, very little” information about his daughter or the chances of her release.
“I’m sure she’s not dead,” he said.
‘You’re sure she was led away by Hamas terrorists. There are eyewitness accounts of this.
‘Someone saw her being led away. Her and her friend and her friend’s mother.’
“You know, America has a lot of influence around the world. When he (Biden) says that, he obviously 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 governments around the world to do their best to get, especially my little Emily, back home,” Hand said.
‘She is an Irish citizen, so we are putting a lot of pressure on the Irish government.
‘We are doing everything we can to get her and all the hostages home. At least the kids.
“They could start with the babies and the children.
“Babies are being kidnapped there.”
He said the support he has received from well-wishers around the world has been “amazing” and “we just keep moving forward.”
“Yes, the campaign is going viral, I guess that’s what you called it, and it’s been amazing, the support we’re getting,” he said.
‘I don’t have time to watch the interviews. I don’t watch the news. I don’t have time for it. It’s just full on getting Emily back.”