Major U.S. airlines suspended their flights to Israel on Tuesday, July 22 after a rocket attack on the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. The Federal Aviation Administration issued an order to stop flights to or from Israel's financial centre. The European Aviation Safety Agency too asked airlines to do the same.
"The notice was issued in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile" from the Ben Gurion, the FAA said.
US Airlines and Delta Air Lines cancelled scheduled flights as Israeli authorities confirmed the rocket attack from Gaza. United Airlines cancelled a couple of flights between Newark and Israel. US Airways authorities said that they were in the process of monitoring the present situation to come to a decision.
The airline, however, cancelled the flights between Philadelphia and Tel Aviv. Delta Air Lines had to take a decision when Flight 468 was in mid-air. The flight was going to Tel Aviv from New York on Tuesday with 290 passengers on board. The flight turned around over the Mediterranean to land in Paris.
Only days back, Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down over Ukraine while 298 people were killed in the accident. The plane was allegedly attacked by pro-Russian rebels. U.S. airlines apparently do not want to take a chance as the political tension in Israel is also quite intense. More than 600 people died in Gaza in the last couple of weeks.
The majority of the deaths, caused by Israeli offensives, consist of Palestinian civilians. Hamas, on the other hand, is striking back to kill Israeli soldiers in particular. So far, several external forces including the White House have attempted to broker a ceasefire but neither of the battling sides seems to pay heed to them.
The Transportation Ministry in Israel, meanwhile, asked the airlines to withdraw the suspension. According to the authorities, the airport was "safe". "Ben-Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded and there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize," the official statement said.
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