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"Hell on earth": Father hopes for 8-year-old daughter's return after she's taken hostage by Hamas

Father pleas for Hamas to release daughter
Father clings to hope for daughter kidnapped in Hamas terror attack 07:55

In a situation that he describes as "hell on earth," Thomas Hand is enduring an agonizing wait for news about his 8-year-old daughter, Emily Hand, caught in the midst of a hostage crisis. Emily is feared to be among the more than 200 people, including around 30 children, taken by Hamas militants in the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

"It's a living nightmare," Hand told "CBS Mornings" on Wednesday.

Hand, who is originally from Ireland and has lived in Israel for the past three decades, said Emily was at a sleepover when the Hamas militant group attacked Israel in a coordinated, multi-fronted terror attack launched from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian territory Hamas has controlled for years. He said he was initially told that Emily was killed, but the Israeli military later informed him that Emily was alive and they found no evidence that she was killed.

He said a witness claimed to have seen Emily being led away with others, indicating she was alive when taken.

Now, Hand clings to hope. 

With her ninth birthday on Friday, Hand mourns the loss of simple joys his daughter should be experiencing, like celebrating her birthday with cake and friends, and is hoping she is released before then. 

"She's down in the tunnels of Hamas. She's not gonna have a birthday party, cake, friends," he said. "The sad thing about it is, she won't even know what day it is. She won't know whether it's night or day. She won't even though it's her birthday."

Hand, who is in the U.S. seeking help in bringing his daughter home, is urging governments worldwide to pressure Hamas for the hostages' release.

"We have to fight, keep the pressure on all the governments of the world to keep the pressure on Hamas to release the hostages," he said. "It doesn't matter how sick I am. It doesn't matter how tired I am. We are going to get her back."

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