NewsIrish PM criticized for mischaracterizing kidnapped girl's ordeal

Irish PM criticized for mischaracterizing kidnapped girl's ordeal

Leo Varadkar.
Leo Varadkar.
Images source: © GETTY | NurPhoto
ed. MUP
12:31 PM EST, November 27, 2023

Statements made by Leo Varadkar, which suggested that he was relieved that a "lost innocent child had been found", have sparked outrage in Israel. However, the situation wasn't as simple as a child getting lost. The nine-year-old girl named Emily wasn't lost; she had been kidnapped by Hamas. Despite this fact, the Irish Prime Minister didn't acknowledge this in his commentary, inciting great ire within Israel and prompting the foreign minister to summon the Irish ambassador for a discussion.

Emily Hand, aged 9, holds dual citizenship in Ireland and Israel. She was abducted by Hamas militants during an attack on southern Israel on October 7. The girl was visiting a friend in Kibbutz Beeri at the time. The initially circulating reports that Emily had been killed were proven false when it was later discovered she had been taken hostage by the terrorists.

"Today is a day of great joy and relief," stated the Irish Prime Minister via social media once news of the girl's return to her family broke. "The innocent child who was lost has been found and returned, and we breathe a sigh of immense relief. Our prayers were heard," commented the head of the Irish Government.

However, social media platform X flagged the commentary from other users and added a section to the Irish Prime Minister's post, revealing its potential inaccuracy. "Emily Hand didn't get lost, she was kidnapped," read the supplemental text.

The words of Varadkar generated significant upset, particularly among Israelis.

"One could describe it as the discovery of a little girl lost in a forest, subsequently found by a good Samaritan, not the release of a girl heinously kidnapped by death squads that brutally slaughtered her neighbors," declared Eylon Levy, spokesman for the Israeli Government. He further mocked Ireland's contribution to Emily's rescue, noting its limitation to prayers.

The relationship between the two nations has been anything but cordial. Following Hamas' surprise attack on Israel, Varadkar condemned the invasion but later expressed concern over Israel's reactive bombing campaign in Gaza.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins has also been critical of Israel, charging the nation with ignoring international law.

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