Father of girl killed by Hamas says death ‘was a blessing’ as it meant she wasn’t held hostage

Thomas Hand became separated from his daughter Emily in the Be’eri Kibbutz when Hamas terrorists attacked

Alex Ross
Thursday 12 October 2023 12:18 BST
Man describes daughter's death at the hands of Hama as ‘blessing’

A distraught father has spoken of the moment he found out his daughter had been killed by Hamas terrorists - describing her death as “a blessing” as he feared she had been taken hostage.

Thomas Hand was separated from his eight-year-old daughter Emily when terrorists stormed their kibbutz in Be’eri near the border with Gaza on Saturday morning, killing at least 100 people.

Emily had stayed at a friend’s house and with the community overrun by heavily-armed militants, Mr Hand was unable to reach her before being rescued by Israeli soldiers and evacuated.

Emily had stayed over at a friend’s home the morning Hamas attacked
Emily had stayed over at a friend’s home the morning Hamas attacked (CNN)

In a heartbreaking interview with CNN, Mr Hand spoke through tears as he revealed the moment he was told his daughter’s body had been found, and his relief at her not being taken hostage.

He told a reporter: “They just said ‘we found Emily, she’s dead’. And I went ‘yes!’ I went ‘yes’ and smiled because that is the best news of the possibilities that I knew.

“She was either dead or in Gaza. And if you know anything about what they do to people in Gaza; that is worse than death, that is worse than death. The way they treat you. They’d have no food, they’d have no water. She’d be in a dark room filled with Christ knows how many people and terrified avery minute, hour, day and possible years to come.

“So death was a blessing, an absolute blessing.”

Mr Hand had moved to the settlement, three miles from the border with Gaza, 30 years ago. He and Emily had lived alone following the death of his wife, according to CNN.

Thomas Hand was in tears as he spoke about the moment he found out his daughter Emily had died
Thomas Hand was in tears as he spoke about the moment he found out his daughter Emily had died (CNN)

On Friday night, Mr Hand said his daughter, a talented dancer and singer, had stayed over at a friend’s home for a sleepover. But after sirens went off at 6.30am on Saturday, he would never see her alive again.

He remained inside his home as the kibbutz was overrun with terrorists - before eventually being rescued with others and taken to a hotel by the Dead Sea, where he waited for news on his daughter for two days.

He said: “Emily’s friends know that she’s not here with me. So they ask me what happened to her … they look up at me and I say I don’t know yet. But then they see their parents hugging me, crying … kids are not stupid, even at that age, so just by seeing that I’m sure they realise.”

Be’eri was one of many settlements targeted by Hamas’s ground assault on Saturday morning. More than 100 bodies were recovered on Monday from the area, including the kibbutz, which was home to around 1,000 people.

Eyewitnesses say heavily-armed militants arrived on motorbikes before launching their brutal attack.

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