9-year-old girl previously held hostage by Hamas speaks in code about time in Gaza captivity

A 9-year-old Israeli girl who spent time as a Hamas hostage continues to struggle to speak normally after her abduction. While she communicates, she does so in hushed tones and coded language, according to the New York Post.

Emily Hand’s father, Thomas, said in a recent interview that his daughter does not talk much about the horrifying ordeal that played out in October. He went on to say that the girl’s family was told by psychiatrists not to question her about the incident.

“Just every now and then, [she gives] little snippets of information,” Thomas said. “But we’re not actually even allowed to question her in any way, from the psychiatrists’ point of view. They said, ‘No, whatever she wants to say voluntarily, let it come out.’”

When Emily does decide to comment about what happened during her time as a hostage, she reportedly uses names of foods or things she does not like to communicate her point. During the interview, Thomas asked his daughter: “What’s Zeitim? [Hebrew for olives]?”

Emily responded: “Terrorists.”

“Any food or item that she doesn’t like, she transfers that word into code,” Thomas added.

Emily has experienced panic attacks now and then since her return.

A second report noted that when the girl was asked why she came up with this coded system, she said, “Sometimes it is uncomfortable for me to say these words.” Emily is an Israeli-Irish girl who was just 8 years old when she was abducted from a kibbutz on October 7.

Thomas described how he has been able to put pieces together of his daughter’s captivity, saying that she was taken from house to house throughout Gaza to stay one step ahead of the IDF. Emily has referred to her captivity as “the box,” and she added that the terrorists were never nice to her during her time away from her family.

The girl’s father said that there was one incident when a Hamas terrorist told her, “Uskut [Arabic for be quiet] or I’ll kill you with this knife.” Though Emily has continued to make progress since her release, she continues to struggle with feeling safe inside her own home.

Her father said she has become “a bit more mature” since the incident, but she has also become “insecure.”

“She always wants to know that the door is locked, that the shutters are down,” Thomas said. “She wants to feel secure in the house.”

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