US lifts ban on flights to Tel Aviv
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
The empty arrival lounge of Ben Gurion international airport, near Tel Aviv, is seen following several flight cancellations on July 23. AFP PhotoThe U.S. national aviation authority lifted a ban on American flights to Israel late July 23, but warned of a "very fluid situation" amid intense fighting in the Gaza Strip.
After a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip struck a house just north of Israel's main airport in Tel Aviv, the Federal Administration Agency imposed the ban on Tuesday and then renewed it midday July 23. European allies replicated the move.
"The FAA has lifted its restrictions on U.S. airline flights into and out of Israel's Ben Gurion Airport by cancelling a Notice to Airmen it renewed earlier today," the agency said in a statement hours before the ban was due to expire.
Before making its decision, the FAA said it worked with US government officials to evaluate the security situation in Israel and "carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation." It did not, however, indicate what the new information might entail.
Israel had warned of the economic impact of the ban by many world airlines and said that it would be a win for Hamas, who hailed the suspension as a "great victory."
The FAA said it would "continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions, as necessary."
At least 718 Palestinians have been killed in 17 days of bloodshed in Gaza, with a local rights group saying more than 80 percent of them were civilians.
A total of 32 Israeli soldiers and two civilians have been killed since the start of ground operations on July 17.