A-League: Phoenix not expecting punishment for striker Tomer Hemed after pro-Israeli celebrations

Wellington Phoenix aren't expecting Football Australia to punish striker Tomer Hemed, following his pro-Israeli celebrations during Sunday's 2-2 draw with Melbourne City.

But there was cause for homecoming celebrations today as the Nix touched down in New Zealand for the first time in over six months.

For some of the players, it was their first time in Wellington altogether.

"It's really good, obviously it's really emotional for us, we've been away for a long time," midfielder Alex Rufer tells Newshub.

Emotions also ran for the players' families as well. Clayton Lewis' dad hasn't seen his son play for the Phoenix in the flesh

"[It's] very special," Barry Lewis Newshub.

"Didn't know if it was going to happen this year, but [I'm] looking forward to it on the weekend."

Even the side's non-Kiwi players appreciate the welcome that the Phoenix received, and what it means to be home.

"For all the boys to get to see their families and their loved ones means something to me as well, because they've had it so tough," says Australian midfielder Cameron Devlin.

But for striker Tomer Hemed, his return was brief, and he was quickly whisked away after his arrival.

The reason - his pro-Israeli celebration in last night's two-all draw against Melbourne City.

"He's trying to express his solidarity for his country," general manager David Dome says.  

"I also feel we have to look at the flip side as well, and there is a very real tragedy going on the other side of the world."

Dome confirmed the Phoenix have spoken to Hemed, and will continue to work with him ahead of Saturday's game against Western United. 

"I think we will just have to reiterate that it's a different scenario now than what potentially has happened in the past. Now a very live situation is happening in his home country and the Middle East."

The Phoenix won't want to lose him especially with captain Ulises Davila battling a hamstring injury.

"It's getting better and we are doing everything we can to play this weekend," Davila says.

The Nix now back in a familiar location - preparing for a home game for the first time this season - with winning on their mind. 

"We're here to do a job still," Rufer adds.

"But as you said, we are all buzzing to be back to see family and see friends."