The Taoiseach’s "absurd" statement on Emily Hand has caused "a lot of hurt" in Israel, a spokesperson for the Israeli Government has told Newstalk Breakfast.
Nine-year-old Irish-Israeli Emily was freed with other hostages held by Hamas on Saturday night after spending 50 days in captivity.
Mr Varadkar has been criticised by the Israeli Government for his statement on her release as he said: “An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned.”
Israeli Government spokesperson Eylon Levy told Newstalk Breakfast the statement was “deeply insensitive”.
“It has caused a lot of hurt in a country that is still mourning the October 7th massacre and is still deeply concerned for the children who are inside the Gaza Strip,” he said.
“Little Emily Hand was not hiding in a lost and found box.”
'She was not a wayward sinner'
It has been suggested that Mr Varadkar’s statement was in reference to The Parable of the Lost Son.
Mr Levy said if the statement was a biblical reference, it is still “absurd”.
“She was not some wayward sinner who went away and came back for forgiveness,” he said. “She was abducted by a terrorist organisation – by Hamas.
“Perhaps God Almighty did answer [Varadkar's] prayers, but he answered it with the long arm and extended hand of the IDF.”
'The very next line'
Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll McNeill said the Taoiseach has condemned Hamas “at every stage” and his statement should not be taken out of context.
“I looked at the Tweet – and I also looked at [Mr Varadkar’s full] statement and in the very next line it describes how Emily was snatched and the slow, cruel torture that she that her family experienced,” she said.
“The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have made a very consistent effort with Israelis, with Palestinians, with the Red Cross, with the US, with Qatar, with Egypt, Saudi, with the Jordanians to try help influencing the recovery of the child.”
She said the current diplomatic storm is an “effort to stirs things up” and the focus should be on allowing Emily and her family to have “peace and privacy”.
Mr Levy pointed out that Mr Varadkar’s full statement on Emily does not mention Hamas and said calls from politicians for a ceasefire are misguided.
“If Israel has accepted the advice of the Irish government to go for a ceasefire, little Emily Hand would still be a hostage in Gaza,” he said.
“Calling for a ceasefire is saying that the barbaric savages who abducted over 30 children and who are telling us that they want to perpetrate another October 7th massacre should be free to reoffend and should remain in power.”
'A moment of reflection'
Ms Carroll McNeill said “multiple statements” from Government have condemned Hamas, including the Taoiseach’s previous statements calling for Emily’s release.
“This was about a moment of reflection and joy that girl has been recovered by all of the means that are described there and that she is reunited with her family,” she said.
Over the weekend, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said he was summoning the Irish Ambassador for a ‘reprimand’ over the Taoiseach’s tweet.
The meeting is due to take place today.