"Every day is a nightmare." These are the words of Thomas Hand, whose daughter has spent the past five weeks held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
Hand's daughter Emily, who turned 9 last week, was kidnapped from Kibbutz Be'eri by Hamas terrorists and taken to Gaza on October 7. Her birthday was marked by a powerful display outside the international headquarters of Save the Children.
Emily was taken by Hamas while on a sleepover with her friend in the kibbutz over the holiday of Simchat Torah.
Initially, authorities at the kibbutz told Thomas that his daughter was likely to have been killed. The family’s plight went viral after he stated in an interview that his first reaction to the news that his daughter had been murdered instead of captured had been relief.
However, roughly a month later, the IDF confirmed that Emily’s body had not been found among the remains of some 120 people killed in Kibbutz Be’eri, and that no traces of blood had been found in the house where she was staying.
"She must be saying every day, 'where's my daddy. why hasn't he come to save me?'"— The Jewish Chronicle (@JewishChron) November 20, 2023
The father of 9-year-old hostage Emily Hand describes his 'nightmare' of trying to rescue his daughter from Hamas terrorists. pic.twitter.com/lyCEm145kx
Moreover, phones belonging to members of the family with whom she had been staying were tracked to Gaza.
In a press conference at the Israeli embassy, a distraught Hand said he was living through a "nightmare" and getting Emily back was his "reason for living".
He added: "I pray I get Emily back. I don't know what condition she's going to be in, but she's going to be very broken mentally and physically and we'll have to fix that.
"It's going to take a long time to fix that. That's what we've got to do and we will do it no matter how long it takes.
"That's my prime focus, my reason for living and getting up in the morning every day."
Hand, who was wearing a T-shirt with a "Bring them home now" message on it, said that the taking of hostages was "pure terrorism, pure evil".
Thomas Hand, the father of Emily Hand, addresses journalists during a press conference at the Israeli Embassy in London (Photo: Getty)
He also said that getting "proof of life" was the "most crucial thing that will keep them (hostages) alive for us now".
Hand added: "Hamas in their psychological warfare tactics are not allowing the Red Cross to get any proof of life", adding that this was "carrying on our pain and torment".
The father went on to say that he was horrified by the thought of "the sheer terror of a nine-year-old girl down in those dark tunnels never seeing the light of day".
"She must be saying every day: 'Where's my daddy, why hasn't he come to save me?"
The Israeli embassy said it believed 240 hostages are being held in Gaza, including at least 30 children.