Irish-Israeli girl Emily Hand has been freed by Hamas and reunited with her father after 50 days in captivity. 

Emily, 9, was taken from a home in the Be'eri Kibbutz by Hamas militants during the attacks on October 7 and was one of 240 hostages taken to Gaza by Hamas. She was initially believed to have been killed during the unprecedented attack, but Israeli authorities later informed her Dublin-born father Tom Hand that they believed she was alive and taken hostage based on DNA evidence. 

The nine-year-old was released on Saturday night alongside eight other Israeli children, five Israeli women, and four foreign citizens. 

The hostages were handed over to Red Cross officials in Khan Yunis before being driven to the Rafah Crossing where they were positively identified by Israeli officials and transported to Israeli hospitals via helicopter. 

Emily was reunited with her father and her two half-siblings at the hospital, with her family stating that they are "overjoyed" to embrace her again. 

"Emily has come back to us! We can't find the words to describe our emotions after 50 challenging and complicated days. We are overjoyed to embrace Emily again," the Hand family said in a statement. 

"We want to express our gratitude to everyone who helped and supported us during the last 50 days until Emily's return. We appreciate the unwavering support as we continue our efforts for the safe return of all." 

Watch the moment nine-year-old Irish-Israeli girl Emily Hand was reunited with her father, Tom, 50 days after being kidnapped by Hamas.
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Emily, who celebrated her ninth birthday in captivity, was on a sleepover with her friend Hila when she was taken on October 7.

Hila and her mother Raya Rotem were also taken by Hamas militants, with Hila released alongside Emily on Saturday. Her mother, however, was not among the hostages released by Hamas and remains in captivity. 

"We remember Raya Rotem and all the hostages who have yet to return. We will persist in doing everything in our power to bring them back home," the Hand family said in a statement. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar welcomed Emily's release, stating that Ireland could breathe a "sigh of relief".

"An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned, and our country breathes a massive sigh of relief. Our prayers have been answered," Varadkar said in a statement. 

"When I met Tom and Natali (Emily's half-sister) in Dublin, their pain was etched on their faces, but so was their courage and determination to ensure that Emily would be freed. I shared their grief and was inspired by their example. Irish people everywhere share in the relief of Emily's family.

"Emily now returns to her family, but we cannot forget that many more hostages remain in captivity in Gaza. Their fate is unknown, but we hope that like Emily, they will also be allowed to return to their homes and their families." 

Tánaiste Micheál Martin also welcomed Emily's release, describing it as a "precious and deeply moving moment for the Hand family". 

"I want to acknowledge the role played by the US, Qatar, Egypt, and others that have been involved in securing the release of the hostages," Martin said in a statement on Saturday night. 

"I am conscious today that many more hostages remain in the hands of Hamas. I reiterate my call that all hostages in Gaza should be released immediately and unconditionally. 

Hamas released 17 hostages on the second day of the ongoing ceasefire with Israel, with Israel also releasing 39 Palestinian prisoners as part of the deal. 

A total of 50 hostages will be released over the four days of the truce in return for the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners. 

The truce marks the first pause in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, which began on October 7 when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 people hostage. 

Israel responded by vowing to eliminate all Hamas militants in Gaza and has dropped thousands of bombs on the Gaza Strip, killing 14,800 people, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Officials estimate that 40% of those killed in Gaza have been children.