8-month-old left behind in Israel back with parents in South Florida

South Florida parents were reunited with their 8-month-old Friday after she had to be left behind in Israel following the surprise attack by Hamas.

Holding their baby daughter Hailey in their arms again at Miami International Airport, Shoval and Itay Hay could hardly hold back tears.

“Thank God she’s alive,” said her father, Itay.

The South Florida family had been visiting relatives in Israel over the Jewish holidays, when Hamas launched the deadly attacks there Saturday. Itay and Shoval initially went forward with plans for a getaway trip to Mexico, one that involved leaving Hailey with her grandmother near Tel Aviv.

The couple flew back to Miami on Saturday, but when violence escalated overseas, they canceled their trip to Mexico. They started scrambling to find Hailey a flight home too.

It took five agonizing days for them to reunite. Kissing his daughter over and over, Itay’s mind turned to little ones who did not survive the terrorist attacks on Israel.

“Babies,” he said. “Because they’re Jews, because they’re Jews.”

He said the U.S. State Department helped find Hailey a flight back home, and she traveled with a friend. Itay also expressed gratitude to the president.

“Thank you, Biden,” he said. “Thank God, my babe [is] back home.”

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