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US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv

© AFP | An Air France airplane (archive photo)

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-23

As hostilities between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip showed no signs of abating on Tuesday, many US and European airlines moved to suspend flights to Tel Aviv due to growing concerns over the security situation.

Some major US airlines, including Delta and United Airlines, announced that they were indefinitely halting service to Tel Aviv after a rocket was reported to have fallen near the city’s Ben Gurion International Airport earlier in the day.

Shortly afterwards, the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that they had banned all US flights to and from Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial capital, for at least 24 hours.

Several European airlines soon followed suit, with Air France, the Netherland’s KLM and Germany’s Lufthansa all suspending flights to the city until further notice.

The airlines’ and the FAA’s moves come just days after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine’s restive east, killing all 298 people on board. The tragic incident raised concerns about the safety of air travel over known conflict areas.

Israel’s Transportation Ministry, however, called on the companies to reverse their decision, insisting that the Ben Gurion International Airport is safe and that there was no reason to “hand terror a prize,” by halting the flights.

Palestinian militants have fired more than 2,000 rockets toward Israel since the conflict first began on July 8, many of which have been intercepted by the country’s Iron Dome defence system, including several heading towards Ben Gurion. According to police spokeswoman Luba Samri, Tuesday’s rocket was the first to land so close to the airport.

The rocket damaged a house and lightly injured one Israeli in Yehud, a Tel Aviv suburb near the airport, Samri said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2014-07-22

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