Thomas Hand, father of 9-year-old Emily who was released from Gaza on Sunday, shared about the extent of the physical and mental trauma that his daughter had been put through in Hamas captivity
Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Hand shared that, like other captives, Emily lost much weight. “It was only when she stepped back that I could see her face was chiseled, like mine, whereas before it was chubby, girly, a young kid face,” he recounted his first encounter with Emily in the hospital after she had been returned from Gaza.
He said that the hostages had enough food to survive and plenty of water to drink but Emily was so hungry all the time that she learned to love plain bread with olive oil. “They always had a breakfast, sometimes lunch, sometimes something in the evening,” Hand told CNN.
Hand shared that besides his daughter's pale skin due to lack of sunlight, what surprised him the most was how she spoke – in a whisper.
“The most shocking, disturbing part of meeting her was she was just whispering, you couldn’t hear her. I had to put my ear on her lips,” he said. “She’d been conditioned not to make any noise.”
He adds that Emily felt as though she was held captive for an entire year. “Apart from the whispering, that was a punch in the guts. A year.”
According to him, Emily said she wasn't beaten, and that she and the other captives held with her weren't allowed to do much beyond drawing or playing card games. He added that Emily now calls Gaza "the box."