Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is set to fly to Tel Aviv in an act of defiance against American aviation authorities, insisting that the recent US flight ban has handed Hamas a "victory".
Mr Bloomberg, one of America's richest men, took to Twitter to announce he was flying to Israel, defying a flight ban issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which he described as an "undeserved victory" for Hamas.
In a series of tweets, Mr Bloomberg said he would be flying on a El Al Israel Airlines carrier to "demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out" of the country and described Israel's Ben Gurion airport as the "best protected airport in the world".
The three-time mayor of New York also called on the FAA to lift the ban immediately after it ordered US airlines to stop flying "in and out Israel" on Tuesday afternoon, citing security concerns after a rocket landed near the airport. The FAA said it will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation throughout the day.
This evening I will be flying on El Al to Tel Aviv to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel http://t.co/PidYBeCk9U— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) July 23, 2014
The U.S. flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately http://t.co/fXDMPSnwZi— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) July 23, 2014
I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel http://t.co/PidYBeCk9U— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) July 23, 2014
Delta and US Airlines were among the first major airlines to cancel their scheduled flights after Israeli police confirmed that a projectile from Gaza had landed near Ben Gurion airport.
Video: Airlines cancel Israel flights
However, facing more cancellations, Israel has called on US airlines to reverse their decision, insisting that Ben Gurion is "safe and completely guarded" and they would be handing "terror a prize" by halting scheduled flights to Israel.