|Title||First Mate (former)|
|Relationships||Blackbeard (Former Captain; deceased)|
John Silver (Former Captive/Enemy/Ally)
|Portrayed by||David Wilmot|
|Gallery||Israel Hands Gallery|
- "Worry ain’t a good look for a king. Not in a kingdom like this... where loyalty is in short supply."
- ―Israel Hands to John Silver[src]
Israel Hands was second-in-command to the infamous pirate Edward Teach in his early days, being one of his most trusted men, and one of the most deadly Nassau ever knew. When Teach moved against Governor Robert Thompson for demanding more bribe money, Hands was the one who killed the governor's wife and son. However, when Blackbeard began grooming Charles Vane as his protégé and successor, a rift developed between the pair. Hands was eventually ostracised from Nassau by Blackbeard. After a humiliating public beating on the beach, Hands was shot in the face that barely missed his eye, and all the other crews were forbidden from accepting Hands.
As an outcast, Hands has lived in a secluded cobbled together shack among the wrecks outside Nassau. He remains something of a fabled figure of the founding days of the pirate republic. John Silver was once told a story by Captain Flint of a man consigned to the Wrecks, with “quite specifically disfigured" from a pistol shot that just missed his right eye, and once sailed with Edward Teach in his early days.
In the aftermath of the disastrous pirate invasion of Nassau, Israel Hands searches the flotsam-strewn shore by torchlight for anything of value, and finds something worth 500 pieces; Long John Silver. Despite Silver's best attempts at hiding and crawling away, Hands finds him and knocks him out, but not before ominously telling him "welcome home." Dragging him unceremoniously back to his shack, Hands shackles Silver to a post.
When Silver comes to and sees a Captured Redcoat nearby, he asks Hands what is going on. Hands reveals that he intends to turn-in Silver to the redcoats for the bounty. Silver tries to deny his identity but Hands says that he has seen Silver before he became a Pirate King. He then scoffs at Silver's title, calling it "more lies." He explains that he thinks the bounty will go up after he kills the Redcoat and blames it on Silver. He then orders Silver to write a note declaring his return to the governor's forces. Silver refuses, but Hands slits the throat of the Redcoat and orders Silver to write, which Silver does.Hands later dumps the body and the note somewhere near Nassau Town, where it is found by Captain Berringer's men.
Silver wonders aloud about what Hands meant by "more lies." Silver then theorizes about who Hands is, and guesses correctly. However, when Silver begins speaking of Hands' banishment, Hands grows angry and strikes Silver after Silver calls him a misshapen wretch. Hands tells Silver that he talks too much. However, Silver continues talking, asking Hands why he stayed on the island when Nassau's first pirate king embarassed him so thoroughly, and says he hopes it wasn't because Hands was hoping for an apology. Hands then begins beating Silver, and says "fuck Teach." Silver agrees, and asks how Teach is supposed to be the best of them. He tells Hands that Teach's leadership led to nothing but the English flag flying over Nassau again.
Silver turns his silver tongue on him, promising that he is a new beginning for Nassau. He proves his worth as a Pirate King by telling Hands that mountains of gold have changed hands because he decreed it, and hundreds of Redcoats were killed at his orders. Rather than betray him to the enemy of his former pirate brethren, Silver thinks he knows someone that owes him money … Max.
Under the cloak of the night, Max meets with Silver and Hands. Silver tries to make a deal with Max; the money for his favour when the pirates retake Nassau. However, Max is invested in going straight, and pirates are simply bad for business. In acknowledgement of their former friendship, she won’t hand him over to redcoats, but will detain him and take him far far away from Nassau. As her men move in, they are single-handedly cut down by Israel Hands, with Max barely escaping with her life. Silver realises he may have a new formidable ally in Hands.
From this point on, Israel Hands becomes Silver’s steadfast enforcer. When they return to the Wrecks, Hands gives Silver a roasted fish. Silver notes that he isn't chained, and thinks this a good sign. However, their lunch is interrupted by the sounds of approaching dogs. A posse of soldiers and militia arrive in the Wrecks, and begin searching for the pair. They manage to hide near some bushes, but are cornered by three Redcoats. They are then rescued by Captain Flint and his remaining men. Flint leads Silver to the Abandoned House where Madi is hiding. At the house, they coordinate their plan. Flint and Silver will lead the handful of men they have left to Nassau when the hangings are taking place. Madi, Eme, and Kofi are dispatched to spread word of Silver's arrival. A cunning fighter not afraid to get his hammer bloody; slitting Captain Berringer’s throat once he gets the nod from Silver, and beating Billy Bones to within an inch of his life then stopping at a word. While Hands is ever loyal, he has no interest in being Silver’s confidant, slapping him in the face when he seeks his council; insecurity is not a good trait in a Pirate King.
Once Silver decides to betray Flint to get Madi back, Israel Hands becomes the voice in his ear encouraging him to see it through. Hands is certain that Flint will betray him and must die, but Silver won’t listen. Israel may be psycho but he isn’t wrong, catching Flint in the act of stealing with the cache. He then lets him go to prove his point. He is sent by Silver with Joji, Adams, Colin and two others pirates, to find the treasure as well as Flint and kill him. He is seen with Silver when Flint kills Joji (the five others pirates were already dead). When he later catches Flint, Hands insists on fighting him lest Silver weaken yet again. He fights Flint but is defeated, Silver appears saving Israel. Soon after, the three look Woodes Rodgers and his men massacre the Pirates. They save the survivors and Jack Rackham saves them with The Lion. Israel participates at the final battle against Woodes Rodgers and survives. He remains loyal to the end, delivering Flint to the Savannah plantation to be incarcerated with Thomas.
Israel Hands is amoral, selfish, and ruthless. He is considered one of the deadliest men to ever set foot on Nassau, a reputation he more than lives up to; Hands is a fierce fighter, using his unorthodox style of a hammer and sword to great effect. His technical skill with these weapons is proof of there being a brain behind the brawn. Hands is quick thinking, observational, and has a habit of making himself the right hand of the most powerful men in Nassau: Blackbeard and Silver.
- "You don't know? Why should I follow you if you don't know? Why would anyone? .... I don't give a shit what you choose but fucking choose! And don't make me suffer the thinking!"
- ―Israel Hands to John Silver[src]
- Israel Hands was a real 18th-century pirate best known for being second-in-command to the infamous Edward Teach. In a famous tale, Blackbeard was playing cards late one night, and became annoyed with the way the cards were running. He attempted to shoot one of the other players, but missed and hit Hands in the knee. When Hands responded with outrage, Blackbeard famously said, “I’ve got to kill someone now and again, or you will forget who I am.” In fact, it saved his life, as Hands was still recovering, when Blackbeard was later killed by the Royal Navy. He was arrested and accused of piracy, but since Hands had not participated in the battle, there was no evidence against him. When he turned State’s Evidence against the merchants who'd fenced Blackbeard’s booty, this got him off.
- Israel Hands was incorporated by Robert Louis Stevenson as a fictional character into Treasure Island. In the book, he was Flint's master gunner.
- Hands' sword appears to be the 1805 standard Royal Navy cutlass. His pistol was listed on the auction site as a "Turkish Blunderbuss." The butt of the gun does resemble a jezail, a musket common to South Asia and the Middle East. It also resembles a dragon, a shortened version of the blunderbuss used as a pistol by Dragoons, who actually derived their name from the pistol.
- One of Hands' necklaces features a Tuareg cross, a religious symbol of a primarily nomadic ethnic group found in North Africa.