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Israeli family on their agonizing Gaza captivity, and why freeing the hostages must be Israel's "only mission"

One Israeli family's Gaza nightmare
One Israeli family's Gaza nightmare 03:57

Tel Aviv — Israelis are holding nightly protests against their own government, demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet negotiate a deal with Hamas to end the war in Gaza sparked by the militant group's Oct. 7 terror attack and to bring home the 136 Israeli hostages still believed to be held captive in the war-torn Palestinian territory.

Hagar Brodetz and her three young children were kidnapped on and held in Gaza for nearly two months. Now they're among the many families speaking out on behalf of those still being held, demanding their leaders do more to get them home, too.

Hagar told CBS News the moment that her three kids were reunited with their father, siblings and their beloved family dog Rodney was one she'll never forget. It was just as special for her husband Avichai, who was wounded when Hamas militants stormed their kibbutz. He initially believed his wife and children had been killed.

"I got them back," he said. "I was living a miracle."

Hagar and Avichai Brodetz are seen with their children Ofri, 10, Yuval, 9, and Oriya, 4. Courtesy of Schneider Children's Medical Center

Hagar said she hid inside her home with her three children and their neighbor's 4-year-old daughter when the attack happened. She struggled to describe the fear that gripped her when she heard the militants break in, but said it felt like death itself was coming for them.

The mom and kids were taken to Gaza and held in a building, above ground, surrounded by fighting as Israeli forces battled Hamas in the group's stronghold.

"The house we were staying, it was collapsed from the IDF bombing, and we were lucky," she said. She told her kids every day that everything would be okay, but it wasn't. Not only were they trapped right in the middle of the war, Hamas had told her that her husband was dead.

She spent her captivity grieving and slowly losing hope, but for her children, she kept it all inside.

"I didn't cry, because I couldn't cry. I had to take care of my kids," she said. "At the beginning, I was sure that Israel would rescue me. But, after you're staying there for a such a long time with your kids, you, lose your hope."

Avichai never lost hope. Several days after the attack, he heard from the kibbutz that his wife and children Ofri, 10, Yuval, 9, and Oriya, just 4 years old, were all still alive and were seen being abducted by Hamas gunmen along with Avigail Idan, the daughter of the family's slain neighbors, Roee and Smadar Idan, who'd all fled to the Brodetz home.

Avichai Brodetz sits with his family's dog Rodney outside the Israeli Defense Ministry offices in Tel Aviv, with a sign reading, "My family was taken to Gaza," demanding that Israel's leaders do more to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas during the group's Oct. 7 terror attack on southern Israel.  Courtesty of Avichai Brodetz

As Ofri marked her 10th birthday in Gaza, her father became the first to sit outside the Defense Ministry offices in Tel Aviv, demanding the safe return of all the remaining hostages. He sat with his dog and a sign that read: "My family was taken to Gaza."

Avichai helped inspire the campaign by families and loved ones to "Bring them home now," and his family was released on Nov. 26, but he's still worried the Israeli government isn't doing enough to bring home the rest of the hostages.

"I think they're being paid to do something, and they're not doing it," he said bluntly. "They need to know that it's their only mission."

Israeli leaders say bringing home the hostages is an absolute priority, but they're also adamant about completing their stated mission to destroy Hamas in Gaza.

Israel trading fire with Hezbollah at border with Lebanon amid fears of wider war 04:30

The Brodetz family is healing, slowly. They all sleep in the same bed at night, and their dog Rodney never lets them out of his sight. He even gets a spot in the bed.

"He's like a pillow for their tears and for their hugs," Hagar told CBS News.

One of the common refrains from the hostage families is that no price is too high to pay for the release of their loved ones - and there's growing frustration and anger with the Israeli government that time is running out to bring them back home.

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