9-Year-Old Irish-Israeli Girl Emily Hand Taken Hostage on October 7th Reunites with Father

16 other hostages' ordeal also ended with the recent release including 13-year-old Hila Rotem

Hamas released seventeen more hostages on Saturday night, ending a seven-week ordeal that had raised concerns about the stability of the truce deal with Israel. The delay in the release had heightened fears of a potential collapse of the agreement.

Emily Hand

Among those freed was nine-year-old Emily Hand, an Irish-Israeli girl initially believed to have perished in the October 7 attack on Kibbutz Be'eri. After 50 days in captivity, Emily was joyfully reunited with her father, Thomas Hand, who had tirelessly campaigned for her return upon learning she was alive.

The emotional moment was captured on video as a timid-looking Emily ran into the open arms of her father, with Israeli soldiers nearby expressing relief. Other survivors from the Kibbutz Be'eri massacre, including thirteen Israelis and four Thai hostages, also returned to Israel in Red Cross vehicles.

Emily hand and father
9-year-old Irish-Israeli girl Emily Hand, who was taken hostage by Hamas on October 7th and later believed to be killed, was also released with 16 other hostages

Thomas Hand expressed his overwhelming emotions, stating, "My Emily is coming home at last, broken but in one piece." Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the news as a "day of enormous joy and relief for Emily Hand and her family," emphasizing the innocence of a child who spent her ninth birthday as a hostage.

However, concerns were raised about the apparent splitting of families during the release process. Siblings Noam Or and Alma Or, along with their father and cousin, were taken hostage, but only the siblings were released. Tragically, their mother, Yonat, was killed in the attack.

Other released hostages included Sharon Avigdori and her daughter Noam Avigdori, as well as 13-yea-old Hila Rotem, who had managed to escape from Kibbutz Be'eri but was discovered by Hamas.

Yaffa Adar, the 85-year-old who became a symbol of Israeli stoicism for staying composed as she was taken into Gaza by Hamas on a golf cart before being freed on Friday, wanted to attend, her grandson said.

This release marked the second group freed by Hamas following a four-day ceasefire agreement, which also involved the exchange of 39 Palestinian prisoners by Israel. The process faced delays as Hamas accused Israel of violating the ceasefire deal, leading to last-minute negotiations to prevent a collapse.

The emotional scenes continued in Israeli hospitals as families reunited, with some hostages celebrating birthdays during their captivity. Despite the joyous reunions, the fate of those still held by the terror group remained uncertain, adding to the tension surrounding the truce.

As the ceasefire's future hung in the balance, tensions remained high on multiple fronts, emphasizing the delicate nature of the region's geopolitical dynamics.