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Leo Varadkar: "An innocent child who was lost has now been found and has returned, and we breathe a sigh of relief"

Photo: Brian Lawless / dpa

An X-post by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on the release of the nine-year-old Irish-Israeli girl from captivity in the Gaza Strip has caused resentment. Israel wants to summon the Irish ambassador because of the "outrageous statements," Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announced on Sunday.

Ireland's head of government had written on Platform X on Saturday evening: "This is a day of great joy and relief for Emily H. and her family. An innocent child who was lost has now been found and has returned, and we breathe a sigh of relief."

In Israel, this description has been criticized as trivializing the hostage-taking by the Islamist Hamas. Benny Gantz, a minister in Israel's war cabinet, wrote on X: "Nine-year-old Emily was never 'lost' – she was brutally kidnapped and held hostage by the terrorist Hamas."

After the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7, the girl was initially thought to be dead. In a television interview, her Irish-born father, Thomas H., tearfully expressed relief that she had not fallen into the hands of Hamas, because that would have been "worse than death." Emily had turned nine years old during her captivity, which had been celebrated with a party in Dublin a week and a half ago.

Later it was said that she might have been taken hostage after all. Last week, Thomas H. made an emotional appeal calling for his daughter's release, saying the family was experiencing a nightmare. The Israeli embassy in Germany published a video on X in which Emily can be seen running towards her father – and he embraces her.

In total, the Red Cross had brought 13 Israelis – among them again four German-Israelis – as well as four Thai citizens across the border into Egypt on Saturday evening. After crossing the border, the hostages were flown to a hospital in Israel. At the hospital, Emily was reunited with her father and two half-siblings. A total of about 7 people were deported to the Gaza Strip on October 240, including many foreigners and dual nationals.