NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The U.S. and European carriers decided to halt flights to Israel Tuesday after a rocket landed near Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv, but some carriers based outside the U.S. went on flying.
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines suspended service between the U.S. and Israel indefinitely Tuesday. US Airways scrapped its one flight to Tel Aviv Tuesday. Several European airlines, including Germany’s Lufthansa and Air France, also suspended flights. The actions come days after a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine with 298 people on board.
Following the action by the U.S. airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a NOTAM, or Notice to Airmen, prohibiting U.S. airlines from flying to the Tel Aviv airport for 24 hours.
“The notice was issued in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning of July 22, 2014. The NOTAM applies only to U.S. operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport,” the FAA said in a statement. “The FAA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation. Updated instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines as soon as conditions permit.”
Earlier Tuesday, a Delta Boeing 747 from New York was flying over the Mediterranean headed for Tel Aviv when it turned around and flew to Paris instead. Flight 468 had 273 passengers and 17 crew on board.
Photos: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
United Airlines canceled its two daily flights to Israel out of Newark Liberty International Airport, according to spokesman Rahsaan Johnson.
“We are suspending operations to/from Tel Aviv until further notice,” said United spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm. “We are working with government officials to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees and will continue to evaluate the situation.”
US Airways canceled its flight to Israel that was due to leave from Philadelphia.
“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.
Israel’s Transportation Ministry called on the airlines to reverse their decision and said it was trying 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.
Isaac Yeffet, the former head of security for El Al Israel Airlines, believes that planes should still be flying into Israel despite the rocket strike that landed near the airport, CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported.
“We need to end this war, but it doesn’t mean that Israel is so weak that the world has to be afraid that Israel will be destroyed,” he said.
Israeli police said a rocket fired from Gaza landed near the airport, damaging a house and wounding one Israeli. Police spokeswomen Luba Samri said Tuesday’s rocket landing was the closest to the airport since fighting began on July 8.
Tova David was on sitting on the tarmac preparing to take off on Tuesday’s midday El-Al flight from Tel Aviv to JFK when she and fellow passengers had to get off the plane and rush into the airport because of the rocket, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.