Toronto resident Aharon Brodutch is speaking out about the suspected abduction of his brother’s family by Hamas militants on Oct. 7, while calling on the Canadian government to do more to help those taken captive.
Brodutch found out that his brother’s family was believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas when he called the family home in Israel to hear about his niece’s birthday party.
“I called home to ask how her birthday celebration went and my mom told me there’s a war going on,” Brodutch told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday.
He immediately woke up his wife and when they called the family back he spoke with his brother. Brodutch said his brother had been out trying to help his neighbourhood when he got injured.
“The last text message he got from (his family) was they’re coming in,” said Brodutch, referring to Hamas, which the Canadian government has designated as a terrorist organization. “He saw what was happening. Hamas was going house to house killing people and burning the houses down.”
They initially believed the family had been killed but Brodutch said they learned after someone had seen his sister-in-law Hagar and the kids being taken out of the house.
They haven’t been heard from since.
“It’s very hard to digest,” Brodutch said.
FAMILY HAD VISITED TORONTO IN THE SUMMER
Ofri, Brodutch’s niece, had visited his family in Toronto during the summer. They’d taken her to the Toronto Islands, Niagara Falls and she’d gone to camp with his daughter.
Brodutch said he and his brother had, in fact, already started planning his niece’s next trip to Toronto prior to the events of Oct. 7.
“She had the time of her life,” Brodutch said of the camp experience, “she doesn’t speak English but she managed to make friends and had fun, incredible fun.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel is determined to bring back the more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas during its Oct. 7 incursion. But so far only five have been released.
On Wednesday, CTV News Toronto also spoke with Merav Raviv and her son Itay, who have travelled to Canada from Tel Aviv to call on the Canadian government to do more to help hostages.
Merav Raviv’s cousin, Roee Munder, was killed in the Oct. 7 attack, and his home burned to the ground. His sister, Keren Munder, her nine-year-old son Ohad, and 78-year-old parents, Ruth and Avraham Munder, are believed to have been taken hostage.
“(Keren) just came to visit grandma and grandpa on that weekend,” said Raviv of her cousin, “She found herself in the morning in the horrible Saturday in the shelter in the safe room.”
They have since held the funeral for Roee without his sister, nephew or parents.
“Our uncle, aunt would even drive sick children and people from Gaza to Israeli hospitals for treatment,” said Itay Raviv, “Every day that they’re there is a crime against humanity itself.”
Merav and Itay hope by coming to Canada and sharing the family’s story they will be able to pressure the government to do more to bring the hostages home.
“We believe Canada is a beacon of flight, of human rights and this is a human rights issue,” said Itay.
Brodutch hopes the Canadian government steps up to help the hostages too.
“The reason I became a Canadian is because Canada has values that I appreciate and human rights is one of those values,” he told CTV News Toronto. “This is a human rights issue. Children being held hostage. This is not something that’s controversial. There is a war going on but this is not about taking sides in this war.”
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