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Ireland's PM Leo Varadkar under fire for comments on release of Irish-Israeli girl held captive by Hamas
26 November 2023, 16:48 | Updated: 26 November 2023, 16:50
Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is under fire for his response to the release of an Irish-Israeli hostage, Emily Hand, by Hamas.
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Reacting to her release, Varadkar wrote on Twitter: "This is a day of enormous joy and relief for Emily Hand and her family. An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned, and we breathe a massive sigh of relief.
"Our prayers have been answered."
The Taoiseach has been criticised for describing Emily as "lost" and "found", given that she was kidnapped by Hamas and held in captivity for more than six weeks.
After his comments, the Irish Ambassador to Israel was summoned to the foreign ministry in Jerusalem for a "reprimand" following a strong response to his comments.
Meanwhile, Eli Cohen, Israel’s foreign minister, said on social media: "Mr Prime Minister. It seems you have lost your moral compass and need a reality check!”
“Emily Hand was not “’lost’, she was kidnapped by a terror organisation (sic) worse than ISIS that murdered her stepmother."
“Shame on you,” he added.
The Taoiseach has since released his full statement regarding Emily's release - which was not published on Twitter at the time - which acknowledges that Emily was "snatched from her home".
This is the full statement I issued yesterday regarding the release of Emily Hand pic.twitter.com/v6N6bmbbmo— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) November 26, 2023
It goes on: "A little girl was snatched from her home and held captive for seven weeks. She spent her ninth birthday as a hostage.
"We hope she will soon heal and recover from the traumatic experience in the loving embrace of her family."
It went on: "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 families."