Father says girl, 9, released from captivity thought she was there for a year, won’t stop whispering

Emily Hand (right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand, in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Emily Hand (right) reunites with her father, Tom Hand, in the early hours of November 26, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Thomas Hand, the father of nine-year-old Emily who was released from Hamas captivity, says she thought she had been held hostage for a year and now cries herself to sleep.

Speaking to CNN, Hand says his daughter’s recovery will be slow.

She’s coming out slowly, little by little,” Hand said.

“We’ll only know what she really went through as she opens up,” he tells CNN. “I want to know so much information … but you have to let them, when they are ready, come out with it.”

He says he was shocked at the transformation she underwent in captivity.

“It was only when she stepped back that I could see her face was chiseled, like mine, whereas before it was chubby, girly, a young kid face.”

“The most shocking, disturbing part of meeting her was she was just whispering, you couldn’t hear her. I had to put my ear on her lips,” he says. “She’d been conditioned not to make any noise.”

He says he asked her how long she thought she had been a hostage and she replied “a year.”

“Apart from the whispering, that was a punch in the guts. A year.”

He also says that she cries herself to sleep at night.

“Last night she cried until her face was red and blotchy, she couldn’t stop. She didn’t want any comfort, I guess she’s forgotten how to be comforted,” Hand says.  “She went under the covers of the bed, the quilt, covered herself up and quietly cried.”

Emily was at a sleepover at a friend’s house at the time of the Hamas assault on October 7. She was initially reported killed, but it was later announced that she was among those held hostage in Gaza.

Emily’s mother died of cancer several years ago.

Most Popular