In a gesture intended to pressure the Federal Aviation Administration to lift its newly declared ban on flights to Israel, former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg has flown to Tel Aviv in an effort to “show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel.”
The ban was imposed after a Hamas rocket demolished a home in Yahud, near Ben Gurion Airport.
Bloomberg, echoing comments made by the Israel Government, said the decision to impose a ban was a victory for the terrorists. “Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely,” said Bloomberg.
“The flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately. I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel.”
According to the Daily Mail, when U.S. and European airlines canceled flights to Israel on Tuesday, “they showed both a skittishness and a new sense of urgency in dealing with global trouble spots following last week's downing of a passenger plane over Ukraine."
Delta Air Lines was the first to turn around one of its jets mid-flight and indefinitely canceled all future flights between the U.S. and Israel. Other U.S. airlines quickly took similar action, and counterparts in Europe and Canada followed within hours, despite protests from the Israeli government. Israeli airline El Al maintained its regular flight schedule.
The Federal Aviation Administration imposed a 24-hour ban on flights to Israel after the U.S. airlines acted. Germany's Lufthansa, Italian airline Alitalia and Air France all acted before the European Aviation Safety Agency issued an advisory.
How long the cessation of flights will last is unclear. U.S. airlines now must wait for the FAA, which said it will provide updated guidance by midday Wednesday. Aviation and legal experts said that airlines are now taking risk assessment into their own hands, both for the safety of passengers and to avoid claims of negligence, following last week's Malaysia Airlines disaster.
Israel's Transportation Ministry called on the companies to reverse their decision, insisting Ben-Gurion Airport is safe and saying there is no reason to “hand terror a prize,” by halting the flights.
Gaza terrorists have fired more than 2,000 rockets toward Israel, and several heading toward the area of the airport have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system, but police spokeswoman Luba Samri said Tuesday's missile strike was the closest to the airport since fighting began on July 8.