Israel-Gaza conflict: US Airlines and Delta Air Lines cancel flights to Israel after rocket strike lands near Ben-Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv
A US plane turned around mid-flight following the announcement
Two US airlines have suspended all flights to Israel, after a rocket landed near the country’s main airport in Tel Aviv, on Tuesday.
Both Delta Air Lines and US Airlines cancelled their scheduled flights after Israeli police confirmed that a projectile from Gaza had landed near Ben-Gurion airport.
US Airways stopped its one daily flight from Philadelphia on Tuesday, as well as the return trip from Tel Aviv. It said it is monitoring the situation in regards to future flights. United Airlines also cancelled its two flights to Israel out of Newark, New Jersey, according to spokesman Rahsaan Johnson.
Flight 468, Delta Air Lines’ only flight scheduled from New York to Tel Aviv on Tuesday, was travelling over the Mediterranean with 290 people on board when the announcement was made. The Boeing 747 turned around and landed in Paris instead.
Amid the cancellations, Israel's Transportation Ministry called on the companies to reverse their decisions, and said it was attempting to explain that the airport was "safe for landings and departures."
"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," it said in a statement.
However, fears are likely to have been prompted by the fact Tuesday's rocket landed nearer the airport than any other since fighting began on 8 July, according to police spokeswoman Luba Samri. The rocket caused damage to a house and slightly wounded one Israeli, she added.
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Following the tragic shooting of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine last week, airlines and passengers are increasingly anxious about the safety of flights in conflict zones. Airlines have rerouted planes to avoid the area over eastern Ukraine where pro-Russia separatists are battling the Ukrainian army.
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration had no immediate comment.
“We are in constant contact with the FAA and are monitoring the situation closely,” said Casey Norton, spokesman for US Airways' parent company American Airlines. The airline has not yet made a decision about flights to Israel scheduled for Wednesday and beyond.
Video: UN Security Council discuss Israel-Palestine crisis
The cancellations came as Israeli air strikes pummeled a wide range of locations in Gaza. On Tuesday morning, an overnight bombardment destroyed of five mosques and a sports complex.
At least 609 Palestinians have died in the two-week conflict - at least 75 percent of whom were civilians, including dozens of children, according to the UN office of humanitarian affairs. 29 Israelis - 27 soldiers and two civilians, have also died.
In Cairo, UN chief Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry met Egyptian officials on Tuesday in the highest-level push yet to end the deadly conflict, following a failed cease-fire last week.
Additional reporting by
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