Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Family of girl believed to be captured by Hamas remain positive on her birthday

Emily Hand turned nine on Friday (David Young/PA)
Emily Hand turned nine on Friday (David Young/PA)

The family of an Israeli-Irish girl believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas in Gaza said they are remaining positive that they will see her again.

A birthday party was held at St Stephen’s Green in Dublin for Emily Hand, who turned nine on Friday.

A birthday cake and balloons bearing Emily’s name were unveiled, as well as a poster saying “Bring her home now”.

Emily Hand was initially thought to be dead in the aftermath of the attack on Israeli citizens on October 7, but more recent information indicates that she is now feared kidnapped in Gaza.

Emily’s father, Tom, has met Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Hand family have appealed for the government’s help in securing her release.

Anna Byrne, a cousin of Emily’s father, attended the birthday party. She said it had been a horrific time for the family, but they are staying strong and positive.

She said: “We are so thankful to the organisers of today, the whole family is so thankful for keeping Emily in everybody’s hearts and minds.

“Especially today. It is quite sad today because we were hoping to have her home for her birthday. We don’t know what type of birthday she is having.

“I just thought I would come today to represent the family and to be here for Emily and to wish her a happy birthday.”

She added: “We are trying to keep strong and positive. We worry about Tom, he is doing so much and it is hard for him to keep going.

Anna Byrne, a cousin of Emily Hand's father, stands by a birthday spread on a table for the young girl
Anna Byrne, a cousin of Emily Hand’s father, stands by a birthday spread on a table for the young girl (David Young/PA)

“It is a horrific time so we just try to give as much support as we can and send our love and best wishes, but it is hard.

“You feel useless, not being able to do anything and they are so far away. None of us can go to Israel so it is very hard but we are keeping positive and just praying and hoping.

“The family are so positive, that is the thing that is keeping us all going, the positivity that we are going to see Emily.”

Tanaiste Micheal Martin visited two towns in southern Israel on Thursday that had been attacked by Hamas in October.

They included Kibbutz Be’eri where Emily was believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas.

Mr Martin has used his visit to the Middle East to press for the release of Emily.