In a significant development following the recent truce between Hamas and Israel, a family with connections to Toronto is among the hostages released, bringing immense relief to their friends and family in Canada and abroad.
A Family’s Safe Return
Hagar Brodutch, 39, and her children — four-year-old Uriah, eight-year-old Yuval, and 10-year-old Ofri — were among the 14 Israeli hostages freed on Sunday. Their release is part of a broader exchange following seven weeks of conflict. The family’s return to Israel has been met with immense joy, particularly in Toronto, where they have close family ties.
Community’s Reaction in Toronto
Shoshana Lipschultz, a family friend and camp director in Toronto, shared her emotional reaction with CTV National News, saying she felt “tears of joy” upon hearing the news. She recalled fond memories of Ofri, who attended her camp last summer while visiting cousins in Toronto. “She’s just young and bubbly and she took to camp like you just wouldn’t believe,” Lipschultz said. She also fondly remembered their playful interactions over language barriers.
The Context of Release
The release comes amidst a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Since the conflict began on Oct. 7, with Hamas militants attacking Israel, there have been extensive casualties and a significant number of hostages taken. The deal, which saw the release of 50 hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners, aims to de-escalate tensions.
Broader Impact and Campaigns
The news of the Brodutch family’s release was particularly significant in Toronto. Hagar’s brother-in-law, Aharon Brodutch, had earlier appealed for more action from Canada in securing their return. Noah Shack of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto initiated a letter-writing campaign inspired by the Brodutch family’s situation. “It snowballed into more than 500 people writing letters every single day to the Red Cross,” Shack told CTV National News, highlighting the community’s efforts to reach out to the hostages.
Continued Concern and Hope
While there is relief, the situation remains tense, with mediators attempting to extend the ceasefire. Shack’s campaign will continue to support those still held in Gaza. “The letters were sending hope, sending hope that they would be coming home soon,” Shack expressed.