As Israeli forces assaulted Gaza, Emily Hand was forced to flee from house to house by Hamas, according to her father, Thomas Hand. It’s horrifying being hauled, shoved, and most likely under fire, he stated on Tuesday.
This is one of the things his daughter is gradually disclosing about what transpired after she was abducted on October 7 and brought to Gaza, which she now refers to as “the box.” She’s coming out carefully, little by little.
He told the news that we won’t truly know what she went through unless she opens up. I have so much knowledge I’d like to have. However, you have to allow them to release it when they’re ready.
Before the kids were freed last Saturday, Emily, who turned nine while in captivity, was detained with her friend Hila Rotem-Shoshani and Hila’s mother, Raaya.
Hand stated that Raaya treated Hila and Emily as if they were her daughters. Furthermore, he called the separation of Hila from her mother, which occurred two nights prior to the children’s release despite agreements between Israel and Hamas, “another step of cruelty.”
While Emily was visiting Hila’s house for a sleepover, Hamas terrorists broke into Kibbutz Be’eri. Hand spent hours locked inside his home, unable to communicate with his daughter, while the neighborhood was destroyed, with over 130 people slain and more taken prisoner.
The kibbutz leaders informed him that Emily’s body had been sighted approximately two days later. They just said, ‘We found Emily,’ he told the news channel. She has passed away. And I replied, Yes! That’s the best news I knew about the prospects, so I said, Yes, grinning. Therefore, death was a true blessing.
However, the Israeli army informed him over a month later that Emily was “highly probable” still alive and being held captive by Hamas. According to Hand, the military has been assembling fragments of data and intelligence. It was determined that none of the remains found at Kibbutz Be’eri belonged to Emily. The house she slept in had no blood on it. Additionally, Hila’s family’s smartphones have been traced to Gaza.
He had been thinking that Emily’s confinement would be a godsend, but now he was filled with worry. It’s terrible to be unknown. While she was being held captive, he told CNN, The waiting is terrible. There was some hope, though.
Israeli-Hamas Interim Ceasefire
Hand received word eight weeks after he had last seen his daughter that Emily was among the second group of hostages to be freed as part of the Israeli-Hamas interim ceasefire.
When he arrived at the base where the freed captives were being held, he attempted to contain his elation. After a protracted wait, information leaked out that she was with the Red Cross.
Suddenly, the door opened, and she bolted. Thomas remarked It was beautiful, exactly as I had imagined it, running together. He continued, sharing his perspective on the now-iconic reunion video in which he calls his daughter “Emush” and says, I probably squeezed her too hard.
Her face seemed plump and girly, like that of a small child, but only as she stepped back did I realize that it was chiseled like mine.
Emily had lost weight, just as the other hostages had, and Hand claimed to have never seen her so pale.
The most startling and unsettling aspect of her encounter was that she was hardly audible, only whispering. He remarked, I had to put my ear to her lips. She had been trained to avoid making any noise.
Thomas noted that an image of a father and daughter that was made public by the Israel Defense Forces provides some insight into the circumstances.
He remarked, You only noticed glassy-eyed terror.
When he offered her his phone in the van as they were leaving the handover, he also noticed a hint of the youngster he knew.
He added that she was smiling and laughing again and that the first thing she did was turn on a Beyoncé song.
In case Emily was upset with him for not coming to save her—a dread he has carried since finding out she was alive—he had brought the family dog Johnsie to the reunion in order to give and receive unconditional love.
However, Emily informed her father that she believed he was also a hostage. She responded with a year when he asked her how long she thought she had been gone. That was a gut punch, aside from the whispers One year.