All domestic and international flight departures have been grounded until further announcement, due to contamination of the fuel supply.
The announcement was made around 2:30 PM Thursday afternoon, leaving thousands of passengers – including even those in planes that had not yet taken off – unwillingly tethered to the Holy Land.
Authorities are considering re-fueling solutions in neighboring Cyprus and Jordan.
The director of Ben Gurion International Airport made the no-fly decision on the heels of an announcement by the Paz Nichsei Teufah (Aviation Assets) company, the provider of fuel used by Ben Gurion planes, that contamination had been discovered in the supply. Paz later announced that it was not the fuel itself that was contaminated, but rather that an unidentified fatty substance of unknown origin had amassed in the filters.
The suspension of flights affects all planes leaving from both Ben Gurion and Eilat Airport. As a result, incoming flights have been asked to make unscheduled landings in Greece and Cyprus until the situation in Israel can be cleared up.
Airport inspectors have spent the afternoon taking fuel samples from all planes that recently refueled.
It is not known whether the problem will be solved within a few hours, or, as one source quoted by Globes said he feared, up to a "couple of days."