TÁNAISTE Micheál Martin will visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) this week.
While in the region, which he describes as “at critical point”, the Minister for Foreign Affairs will seek information on the whereabouts of missing Irish girl Emily Hand.
The eight-year-old, whose father Thomas Hand is from Dublin, is believed to be being held captive by Hamas forces since their attack on Israel on October 7, which is estimated to have killed around 1200 people.
The attack provoked Israel to launch retaliatory strikes on Gaza which continue today and are estimated to have killed more than 10,000 people.
Speaking at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels yesterday, the Tánaiste said: “The situation in the region is at a critical point, with a catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and continued risks of regional escalation.
“I have been engaging intensively with regional counterparts since October 7 and will return to the region this week, following my visit in September, to continue that engagement.”
Minister Martin will visit Egypt, Israel and the oPt during his visit.
“In Egypt, I hope to meet with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Secretary General of the Arab League, Aboul Gheit,” he said.
“In Israel, I plan to see Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and hope also to visit the south of Israel and the communities that were devastated by the October 7 attacks,” he added.
“In the oPt, I am scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Malki and also hope to see Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.
“I will be engaging in particular on the situation of Emily Hand, the eight-year old Irish-Israeli hostage, whose father Tom I will meet in Dublin, as well as the situation of Irish citizens still in Gaza.”
Minister Martin is due to meet Thomas Hand in the Irish capital today, which follows a meeting between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Hand last night.
Following that meeting, Mr Varadkar confirmed the Government would do all it could ensure the young girl’s release.
“Emily Hand, who will be nine years old this week, is an Irish citizen, an Irish passport holder and we will do all that we can to find out information about her whereabouts,” Mr Varadkar said.
"Hopefully she is alive and well. I believe she is in my heart and I know her father does too," he added.
“I assured the Hand family that the Government will do all in its power to secure the release of Emily and to assist the Hand family, and I emphasised Ireland’s call on Hamas to release all hostages immediately without any preconditions.”