- 27 Nov 23
Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen said yesterday he has summoned the Irish ambassador in Tel Aviv Sonya McGuinness "for a reprimand", due to Leo Varadkar’s statement, in which he referred to Emily having been "lost" and "found" which Cohen took issue with.
9 year old Irish-Israeli hostage Emily Hand, was freed by Hamas after 50 days of being held in captivity. Hand was among 240 people taken hostage by Palestinian militants in Israel on October 7th.
Comments made by Leo Varadkar have been ill-received after the Taoiseach tweeted on X saying "An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned".
The tweet posted by Mr Varadkar was ill received and was subject to a community note which read "Emily Hand was kidnapped by Hamas Terrorists on October the 7th. The use of the term lost is inappropriate and fails to highlight that she was released as part of a hostage deal".
This is a day of enormous joy and relief for Emily Hand and her family. An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned, and we breathe a massive sigh of relief. Our prayers have been answered.
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) November 25, 2023
Eli Cohen, Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs, took to the social media platform not long after and quoted the Taoiseach's post, adding his own remarks saying that Mr Varadkar had lost his "moral compass and need a reality check". The foreign minister went on to further say that Varadkar was "trying to legitimize and normalize terror".
Concluding his remarks Cohen stated: "Shame on you!".
Mr. Prime Minister,
It seems you have lost your moral compass and need a reality check!
Emily Hand was not “lost”, she was kidnapped by a terror organization worse than ISIS that murdered her stepmother.
Emily and more than 30 other Israeli children were taken hostage by Hamas,… https://t.co/CD5wIZJN4i
— אלי כהן | Eli Cohen (@elicoh1) November 26, 2023
In a post written in Hebrew Cohen followed up saying that he "summoned the Irish ambassador to Israel for a reprimand" following Varadkar's "Outrageous comments".
However, the Taoiseach's tweet was part of a longer statement which Mr Varadkar released on X yesterday, saying "A little girl was snatched from her home and held hostage for almost seven weeks.She spent her ninth birthday in captivity. She will soon heal and recover from this traumatic experience in the loving embrace of her family" for whom he described the experience as a "slow and cruel torture".
Mr Varadkar said the vast majority of people will understand what he was saying when he welcomed Emily's release, adding that he has always been consistent in his unequivocal condemnation of Hamas and hostage taking.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland todaay, Minister for Education Simon Harris said the Taoiseach's statement speaks for itself, adding that Mr Varadkar calls out terrorism every single day.
Harris added that he felt the Israeli response was an "overrecation". Mr Harris said "Israel have decided to summon a number of ambassadors from a number of European countries in recent days. It's their prerogative to do that. I think it is a bit of an overreaction, being honest".
However, the full statement did not dispel Israeli dissatisfaction as it is understood that the Irish ambassador to Israel Sonya McGuinness will be summoned at some point between today and tomorrow.
She will be met by senior officials and informed of Israel’s unhappiness that Mr Varadkar described Emily Hand as "lost" as opposed to kidnapped.
"I think that the Taoiseach’s statement was extraordinarily clear and the main thing is Emily Hand is back with her family," Mr Harris said.
Tánaiste Micheál Martin said he was "genuinely surprised" and that anyone who read the Taoiseach's statement could not be any clearer as to the Irish Government's relief and joy at the release of Emily and other hostages, or the Government’s condemnation of the Hamas attack on 7 October.
Opposition parties have also expressed criticism of the Israeli reaction to the statement, with Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty calling it "disgraceful" and an "utter deflection".
However, support in Ireland is not unanimous with MMA fighter Conor McGregor tweeting on the issue, while drawing a comparison with the recent Parnell square stabbing, saying that the Government was "constantly down playing?attempting to repress horrific acts that happen to children".
The post by the Irish mixed martial artist and professional boxer was retweeted by Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Eli Cohen on the platform.
She was abducted by an evil terrorist organization. What is with you and your government and your paid for media affiliates constantly down playing / attempting to repress horrific acts that happen to children. You are a disgrace. The day after a stabbing of children in Ireland,… https://t.co/YKyviZDLfW
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) November 26, 2023
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