Nine-year-old Emily Hand was taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7, and while she was initially thought dead, she was returned to her family on Nov. 25. Her father, Thomas Hand, told the Israeli broadcast channel Uvda he knows one thing he plans to do after his daughter has recovers from her ordeal:
“The one thing I’m determined to do, when she’s recovered enough, I’m going to find out where and if Beyoncé is touring, and I don’t care where it is in the world, she’s going.”
“She adores her,” he added.
Israelis have appealed to the singer to help Hand with his quest, with some reporting that Beyoncé has made an extraordinary offer to Emily. That claim has spread on social media, though the news remains unconfirmed and no direct source for the information has been cited.
Author Sarah Tuttle-Singer translated the news on Facebook, credited to Yarden Mainfield Dizengoff: “Emily Hand, who was released from captivity in Gaza, received the news: Beyoncé and her team invite her to attend a concert on any date and at any destination in the world she wants. No one deserves it more than her.”
Hand was formerly with the Times of Israel; Dizengoff is an Israeli journalist who describes himself as a “pop culture researcher.”
On Tuesday, Hand told CNN of Emily, “She’s coming out slowly, little by little. We’ll only know what she really went through as she opens up. I want to know so much information … but you have to let them, when they are ready, come out with it.”
He also described the moment he was reunited with Emily as “beautiful,” but said that it was clear the young girl had experienced difficulty while being held hostage. “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,” Hand said.
“She’d been conditioned not to make any noise.”
Others who reported Beyoncé had made the invitation to Emily include Israeli journalist Emily Schrader, who wrote on Instagram, “9 year old Israeli Emily Hand, who was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and held in Gaza for more than 50 days, was invited by @Beyonce + her team, to attend a concert anywhere in the world at the date of her choosing.”
Another version of the story spreading on social media asserted that a “Hollywood producer” had made the connection between the Hand family and Beyoncé, but TheWrap has been unable to confirm that report.
Emily’s family initially believed she was killed in the Oct. 7 attack at the kibbutz Be’eri. Hand said his daughter was spending the night with a friend when Hamas attacked.
He called his ex-wife, who he described as a “second mom” to the young girl (her own mother died when Emily was 2) and “told her to get in her bomb shelter and call Raya, the mother of Hila, who Emily spent the night with.”
His ex-wife was shot as she attempted to run to her mother’s home, and Hand chose not to try running to the home of Emily’s friend. He explained, “I thought, ‘Well, if I do that and I get shot dead now, Emily won’t have a mother or a father.’ Maybe she will survive. Maybe they won’t touch her house.”
“I still feel guilty about that. I should have just gone for it. Maybe things would’ve turned out differently,” he added. Hand stayed in his home until the Israeli military arrived at one in the morning.
Hand was initially told Emily had died and said he felt “relieved” before he added, “It is a very strange thing to say when somebody comes up and says, ‘Sorry, your daughter’s dead,’ and you go, ‘Thank God for that.’ Because I did not want her to be kidnapped and in the tunnels of Gaza. That was worse in my head.”
The family found out Emily was alive at the end of October, and she was returned with several other Israeli children in November.