The deeply moving reunion of the recently released Brodutch kids – Ofri, 10, Yuval, 8, and Oriya, 4 – with Rodney, their dog, happened on Monday at Schneider Children's Hospital and it was so emotional that there wasn't a dry eye in the room. The kids and their mom, 40-year-old Hagar, had been held captive by Hamas and were just returned as part of the third stage in a deal to free some of the kidnapped women and children earlier this week.
Rodney, the family dog, is considered nothing less than a member of the family, and has become familiar to the public due to his appearances in images from the protest strike led by the family patriarch, Avichai. This protest took place outside the Kirya defense headquarters building in Tel Aviv, as Avichai tirelessly fought for the release of his family from their captors in Hamas.
Rodney can be seen in these images seated beside Avichai, who would drape a coat over him in the early morning hours to keep him warm. From that time forward, Rodney has been a constant companion to Avichai throughout his ordeal, accompanying him during interviews and travels, right up until the family was finally set free from the clutches of Hamas.
The astonishing tale of the survival of Rodney the dog is in itself a marvel. When the Brodutch family was taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, along with their young neighbor, Avigail Edan, who spent her 4th birthday in captivity, Rodney managed to evade the terrorists' gunfire. This incident was notable since the terrorists also targeted the kibbutz dogs. It was later discovered that Rodney found refuge with another dog at a different family's home.
As the Israeli Defense Forces began evacuating families from Kfar Aza, Rodney was steadfast in his refusal to abandon the house. The evacuation was fraught with continued gunfire exchanges at the location and one of the emergency personnel recounted how Rodney "hid under the bed and refused to budge" when he heard the gunshots. The rescuer said to Rodney: "The route is clear for you, get out." Eventually, Rodney emerged and made his way back to Avichai's home.
The next day, October 8, Ido Bohadana, who was a reservist, went to the Brodutch family's house. "I got to the one house that changed how I saw the whole fight, Avichai's house," Bohadana said. "At the start, we didn't want to go in the front door. We tried looking for another way in. I went in through a side door and saw IDF projectiles. Clearly, there were soldiers ahead of me. From out of the dark, a pair of eyes stared at me. I almost fired at it, but backed off. All of a sudden, I saw Rodney, Avichai's dog. He was scared stiff, didn't want to come near us, he was howling. In the kitchen, we saw a birthday cake, and it made everyone in the team start crying."
The troops took on the responsibility of caring for Rodney, ensuring he was fed. Concurrently, Bohadana reached out to the family, letting them know that the dog was safe with the soldiers.
"I took your home from the terrorists and discovered the dog," Bohadana penned in his communication.
Ultimately, the decision was made to leave Rodney at his home, with plans for friends to collect him later. Prior to leaving the house, Bohadana left a note for incoming soldiers, instructing them to look after the dog and maintain the security of the house. A few days passed before Rodney was retrieved, leading to a joyful reunion with Avichai and resuming his loyal companionship.
Tuesday morning, Avichai expressed his feelings. "I am happy and thank the people of Israel for their support." He extended his gratitude further saying: "I thank everyone who prayed for me and everyone who lit candles and did hafrashat challah." He acknowledged the courage and help of the IDF soldiers. "I thank all the IDF soldiers who fought for me and who helped me along the way." He also said that he appreciated the global support. "I am really grateful to everyone who helped. I want to thank the whole world." Avichai concluded with a promise, "I will not stop working for the release of all hostages."