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Jerusalem summons Irish envoy after ‘outrageous’ remarks by its premier

Leo Varadkar called Irish-Israeli captive Emily Hand "an innocent child who was lost and has now been found," failing to mention Hamas kidnapping.

Emily Hand, 8, with her father, Thomas Hand, an Irish immigrant to Israel, in Ramat Gan after being freed from nearly two months of captivity in the Gaza Strip by Hamas, Nov. 25, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Emily Hand, 8, with her father, Thomas Hand, an Irish immigrant to Israel, in Ramat Gan after being freed from nearly two months of captivity in the Gaza Strip by Hamas, Nov. 25, 2023. Credit: IDF.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Sunday summoned the Irish ambassador to Jerusalem for a dressing down following “the outrageous words” of the country’s prime minister.

Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar drew criticism from Israeli leaders for calling one of the hostages released by Hamas on Saturday night “an innocent child who was lost and has now been found.”

Emily Hand, 8, was one of 13 women and children freed by the terrorist group in the Gaza Strip as part of a four-day ceasefire agreement. Her father, Tom, is a 64-year-old Irish immigrant.

Varadkar did not mention in his tweet that Hand was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and her release was conditioned upon Israel having to free three Palestinian terrorists.

“Mr. Prime Minister, Emily Hand is not lost, maybe you have lost your moral compass and your connection to reality,” Cohen wrote on X.

“Emily Hand was kidnapped by a terrorist organization worse than ISIS after her stepmother was murdered. Emily and over 30 other Israeli children were kidnapped by Hamas, and you are trying to legitimize it. Shame on you!”

War Cabinet minister Benny Gantz also slammed the Irish prime minister’s remarks.

“Emily was never ‘Lost’—she was brutally kidnapped and held hostage by terrorist Hamas,” Gantz tweeted.

“After 50 days held hostage in Gaza and while celebrating her 9th birthday surrounded by Hamas terrorists armed with Kalashnikovs and knives, after her father mourned her loss in front of the whole world, her father will now need to tell Emily that her stepmother was murdered by those same Hamas terrorists only 6 years after losing her biological mother to cancer,” Gantz continued.

Emily was initially thought to have been killed during the Oct. 7 massacre.

‘Completely unacceptable’

On Friday, Israel said that it was summoning the ambassadors of Spain and Belgium following a press conference the two country’s prime ministers held outside of Egypt’s Rafah Crossing to Gaza ahead of the first batch of Israeli hostages being released by Hamas.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called for the European Union to recognize a Palestinian state, saying that Madrid might do so. Spain holds the E.U. rotational presidency, with Belgium taking over in January.

Sánchez also accused Israel of “the indiscriminate killing of civilians, including thousands of boys and girls” in Gaza, saying it is “completely unacceptable.”

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo called for a “permanent ceasefire.”

The two leaders spoke after a two-day visit to the Jewish state, as well as to the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement following the press conference condemning the remarks.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly condemns the comments by the prime ministers of Belgium and Spain, who did not place total responsibility on Hamas for the crimes against humanity it perpetrated: massacring Israeli citizens and using Palestinians as human shields,” he said.

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