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'It's hard to understand how they survived': Toronto man's family held hostage by Hamas released

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The wait is over for Toronto man Ahron Brodutch and his wife Shira – their sister-and-law, niece and nephews have been released from captivity.

"They're doing okay," Brodutch told CTV News Toronto after returning from Israel. "There's still a lot of trauma that we can already see. And they lost a lot of weight."

His two nephews, Yuval, 8; Uriah, 4; his niece Ofri, 10; and his sister-in-law Hagar Brodutch, were all taken hostage on Oct. 7 by Hamas.

When they were released on Nov. 26, they were still wearing the same clothes they’d been clothed in when they were seized.

"It's hard to understand how they survived and how they went through this incredibly gruelling experience," said Brodutch. "My brother's wife is, she's the big hero in the story, you know, taking care of her family in captivity."

Brodutch had gone to Israel to support his brother. For weeks, he and his wife had been sharing their story and applying pressure on governments and NGOs to do something to bring all the hostages home.

He did not elaborate on their time in captivity, saying only that the family could stay together and his niece had really stepped up.

"Hagar said she was just [an] incredible number 2 person, you know, helping her with the younger kids," said Brodutch.

When he visited Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel, he said he brought the family's dog, Rodney.

“When I was there, I asked the kids, like, ‘Who did you miss the most?’ And they said their father, obviously,” he said, adding the children also missed their dog.

A touching video of the reunion between the kids and their dog was shared by the hospital's Instagram account, which is where the family is currently staying at.

"There's a new wing [and] they created a facility to have them there as long as they want. They're still there," said Brodutch.

Brodutch said they are going to be moving somewhere else, but they haven’t decided yet – “in terms of the long term, it’s very hard to tell.”

He hopes to see joy for other families with the return of more hostages and said while their family's fight may be over, it's certainly not for everyone.

"I'm hoping those negotiations continue. I hope the fighting doesn't restart until all the hostages are out," said Brodutch.

The war erupted after Hamas, a militant group deemed a terrorist organization by the Canadian government, killed some 1,200 people and seized around 240 captives in a surprise attack in Israel on Oct. 7. Israel responded with airstrikes and a ground offensive in Gaza, killing more than 13,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

International mediators are working to extend the ceasefire, according to The Associated Press, which is hours from expiring. The ceasefire, which paused the deadliest fighting between Israel and Palestinians in decades, has seen hostages released by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. 

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