Monday, September 22, 2014

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FAA Puts Temporary Ban on Flights to Israel

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TWC News: FAA Puts Temporary Ban on Flights to Israel
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The Federal Aviation Administration has put a temporary ban on flights to Israel after a rocket from Gaza landed near the country's main airport.

All U.S. commercial airlines are prohibited from operating flights to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport for 24 hours.

The ban comes after a rocket landed less than a mile from the airport Tuesday morning, wounding one Israeli.

The FAA will review the ban within the 24-hour period.

"The FAA makes these decisions when they feel it's warranted, again for the safety of United States citizens. And they, in response to the recent attack at Ben Gurion Airport, in the vicinity of Ben Gurion Airport, after consultation with U.S. operators, felt today that it was important to issue this notice," said U.S. State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf.

At JFK Airport, the only flights to Israel appeared to be on El Al Airlines.

NY1 spoke to passengers who arrived on a flight from Israel Tuesday afternoon.

Some of the passengers said the U.S. is overreacting, but others who were shaken up said the U.S. is not.

One passenger described a harrowing ordeal right before the plane took off from Tel Aviv.

Passenger: As we were boarding the plane, most people had boarded the plane already, and the siren went off, so we had to run off the plane to shelter in the middle of the airport. So you had to run for about a minute to get to shelter and just wait there for about 10 minutes, until the all clear was sounded.
NY1 reporter Ruschell Boone: How was that?
Passenger: It was nerve-wracking, actually.

That passenger's mother said she didn't think the U.S. was overreacting.

"It was very difficult," she said. "I understand their decision because you can't have rockets coming in. Look what happened just now over Russia. You have a rocket and you bring down 300 people at one shot."

Some Americans are also stranded in Israel because of the cancelled flights.

Rabbi Shalom Lewis is in Tel Aviv trying to get back to the United States. He planned to take a Delta flight to New York on his way to Atlanta, but he is now faced with airline cancellations.

Lewis is visiting Israel with a group that includes many first-timers to the country.

"Everyone one of them was just aggravated by the inability to get home easily, but nobody was afraid, nobody was scared or nobody was concerned. It's a very courageous, wonderful group that took everything in stride," said Lewis.

The European Aviation Safety Agency is also urging airlines to avoid flights through the area.

Several airlines, including Air France, Lufthansa and KLM, had already stopped traveling there.

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