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He was declared dead – and now the nine-year-old is free from Hamas

He was declared dead – and now the nine-year-old is free from Hamas

Emily Hand’s parents had previously been informed that she was killed during large-scale attacks by Hamas on October 7. This later turned out to be false, and her father, Thomas Hand, campaigned for her release, speaking out several times in the media.

“We lack words to describe our feelings after 50 challenging and difficult days,” the family said in a statement issued at a forum for hostage families.

“We are thrilled to be able to hug Emily again but at the same time we remember (…) the hundreds of hostages who have not yet returned.”

Family: “We are at a loss for words.” Photo: IDF/AP/TT

Emily Hand was detained by Hamas without any of her family members by her side, and also completed nine years in captivity. The Irish Foreign Office confirmed their release over the weekend.

It is expected that on Sunday, for the third day in a row, another group of hostages will be released.

Israel: 1,200 people killed

Saturday’s exchange was severely delayed after Israel and Hamas disagreed over the details of the agreement. According to Israeli authorities, about 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas attack on October 7, and about 240 others were said to have been kidnapped.

Also among those released on Saturday was Maya Regev, 21, the first person to be released after being kidnapped during the Supernova festival. Her little brother is still being held hostage.

“I am so happy and blessed that Maya is on her way,” mother Merritt said in a statement. “But my heart is broken because my son Itay is still being held by Hamas in Gaza.”

About 15,000 people are said to have been killed in Israel’s response to the attack, according to Hamas-controlled authorities in Gaza.

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