MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - An Israeli youth basketball team has landed in South Florida for a week of tournaments against local athletes.

The team, consisting of 24 teens along with their coach and staff, were greeted with cheers, balloons, and warm welcomes at Miami International Airport on Tuesday.

The trip was sponsored by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, along with Project Twenty Four, a nonprofit organization that helps the Jewish community come together, and will offer the team a temporary escape from the war zone following the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

“It was really with the intent that we would give them an amazing week full of experiences — person to person, community to community to really lift their spirits,” said Lori Tabachnikoff, a spokesperson for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. We believe

Due to safety reasons, the team has had to spread all across Israel thus they all rarely get to be together.

“It’s amazing because this is like the second time all the kids are together because we are like spread all over Israel right now because of the situation,” said Sagee Katav, coach for Israeli youth basketball team.

During the week-long trip, they’ll play games at the Jewish community center, watch a Miami Heat game, and get to meet some of the basketball players on the Heat team.

“Because of what we’re doing here and having hundreds of people from the Jewish community giving something that is not money, they’re hotsing, they’re cooking, they’re taking. And that’s something that eveybody wants o help somehow but donations are important but they don’t get to these kids sometimes,” said Daniel gradus, an organizer for Project Twenty Four.

Two team members on the team said they were excited to be in Miami but also missed home.

“It’s exciting but because of the situation, it’s also scary to be here,” said player Guy Eidan.

Prior to the attack on Oct. 7, most of the team lived in a Kabutz, right on the border between Gaza and Israel, but now they’re all spread across the country and have only been able to get together once.

“To be out of Israel, it’s kind of a relief a bit but I still kind of miss my home but it’s really fun to be here with my friends as well,” said player Omer Yahav. “We talk all the time. It’s hard but we manage.”

Several Pinecrest families will open their doors to the team, hosting them during their trip.

“At a time like this, with everything going on, sports has always brought people together and to be able to do it within your own nation and within your own people is one thing but to be able to do it internationally like this and to bring two countries together is wonderful,” said Dennis Harris, athletic director and Alper of Jewish Community Center Miami.

Although the trip is bittersweet for many, if not all of these young athletes, they are in for a week full of fun and new experiences across Miami.

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