The Mexican National Rhythmic Gymnastics is among those stuck in Israel during its conflict with Hamas.
On Monday, October 9th, the team requested assistance from the Mexican government to return home in a video post on Instagram, gaining immediate traction on social media. The request comes amid a violent escalation in the Israel-Hamas war that has left a death toll of at least 1,500 and over 100 people kidnapped by the militant group.
All airports in Israel are now closed and commercial flights have been stopped, which left the gymnasts little options to return home without government assistance. They had traveled to Israel to a preparation camp for the upcoming Pan American games, which are set to take place in Santiago, Chile, starting October 20th.
In the video, the team’s coach, Blajaith Aguilar, identifies the team and goes on to talk in Spanish about how “tensions and concerns have taken over our environment,” adding that in the wake of the Hamas attack and “given the seriousness of this situation, flights have been canceled, leaving us without the immediate possibility of returning to our Mexico.” Finally, she adds that “we call and strongly request support from our government so that we can return to our homes safe and healthy as soon as possible.”
Mexico’s response was swift, with a follow-up video being posted on Tuesday, October 10 from the gymnasts stating in Spanish that they are soon to leave Israel. The Mexican government is among the Latin American governments sending planes to evacuate their citizens from Israel. Brazil has also sent planes over to bring citizens back home.
In the second video, they also thank people for their support and say they look forward to going back to Mexico.
In a third video on the same day, the team is seen at the airport in preparation for their flight home. Aguilar again thanks everyone who has helped them bring attention to their plea to get home and those who helped them on the ground in Israel.
The Mexican gymnasts are coming home, but there have been other Latin Americans missing or abducted in Israel in the past few days, with reports indicating 7 Argentinian nationals are dead and 15 more missing after the Hamas attacks. Al Jazeera has also reported the missing include 3 from Mexico, 3 from Brazil, 2 from Chile, 2 from Paraguay, 2 from Colombia, and 4 from Peru.