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Israel Under Fire
U.S. Halts Flights to Israel

After a rocket exploded in a town near Ben-Gurion Airport, the FAA has ordered all flights to Israel to be temporarily canceled. The AP reports:

“Due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza, all flight operations to/from Ben Gurion International Airport by U.S. operators are prohibited until further advised,” the FAA said in its notice to airlines. The rocket strike landed about one mile from the airport, the agency said. […]

The agency said it will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation, and that updated instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines “as soon as conditions permit, but no later than 24 hours” from the time the directive went into force.

Looming over this decision is the downing of Malaysia Air flight 17 in eastern Ukraine. One of the first questions proffered after that tragedy was why a civilian airliner had been routed through an active war zone. Evidently U.S. officials are eager to avoid having to field this question after another tragedy.

This marks the first time in the latest conflict that a Hamas rocket attack has achieved an outcome of actual military consequence, as opposed to a propaganda victory. This raises the stakes for Israel considerably. If Palestinian rockets can cut off Israel’s chief link with the outside world, then they have become much more than a nuisance. This is the kind of threat that would make Israel even more determined to shut down Hamas’s rocket capabilities, and more willing to pay a high price in terms of international anger over its actions.

[This post has been updated.]

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  • Avi_in_Jerusalem

    This is a regrettable but understandable step in the light of what happened to the Malaysian Airlines flight.
    Perhaps now, those commentators who pointedly ignore the continuing illegal terrorist rocket attacks on Israel by the organised crime family known as Hamas, will understand the steps that have to be taken to prevent these attacks. At present the Hamas are refusing to accept the cease fire that is being brokered by the Egyptians. At each stage Israel has accepted offers of cease fires, only to have them broken by the Hamas.
    Luckily for the inhabitants of Gaza, they are attacking Israel rather than Russia or even the USA. The death toll would be of a different order of magnitude if they tried that.
    What annoys me is not so much the hate of the Muslim extremists around the world, rather it is the hypocrisy of their Western supporters who are willing to fight their imaginary battles for a perfect world to the last Palestinian and preferably, to the last Jew.
    We welcome all visitors and tourists once we have sorted this out. Alternatively, you can fly El Al in safety and enjoy yourselves now.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Some of us Western liberals actually ARE annoyed “most” by the hatred coming from Muslim extremists around the world. Some of us understand that Islam is not only against Israel but that it is almost equally against anything and everything which is not Islamic, including Christians and non-religious secularists. Some of us understand that, contrary to a lot of erroneous spin, the situation of the “Palestinians” is NOT the sole—-or even main—-reason why Islam is a world problem.

      You already know Israel has support from world Jews and from many American Christian conservatives. You should also know that some of America’s liberals also understand Islam for what it actually is and are not at all in sympathy with some other liberals who act as Israel’s critics.

  • gabrielsyme

    A massive overreaction. Does anyone in the White House know anything about military conflict? Hamas is fortunate if its rockets land within miles of where they aim them; they have no advanced telemetry, and certainly no ground-to-air capability that can hit planes dozens of miles away.

    • Andrew Allison

      Agreed. The impunity with which the Israeli Air Force is bombing targets in Gaza suggests that Hamas lacks surface-to-air capability.

    • rheddles

      Does anyone in the White House know anything about military conflict?

      No. That’s why they withdraw and declare victory.

  • Breif2

    1. While I wouldn’t hesitate to fly into Israel right now (especially on an El-Al flight), the decision is defendable. But IF (hypothetically) this decision was made in order to pressure Israel to come to an agreement with Hamas, then as this post explains, it is counterproductive. Also keep in mind that Ben-Gurion Airport is significantly more vulnerable to fire from the West Bank (Judea & Samaria) than from Gaza. This won’t increase Israeli support for further withdrawals. Unhelpful, to coin a term :-).

    2. “all flight operations to/from Ben Gurion International Airport by U.S. operators are prohibited”

    “From”? Unless we have specific intelligence otherwise, the odds of a Hamas rocket hitting a plane in mid-air are infinitesimal (even taking Iron Dome into account). The odds of a rocket hitting a parked plane or its crew or American citizens stuck in Israel are merely tiny. Doesn’t seem logical.

    3. Tickling my dark funnybone: “Delta Flight 468, which left New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday with 273 passengers, diverted to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport instead of heading to Tel Aviv as scheduled”

    • Corlyss

      “the decision is defendable”
      Don’t agree. However, it is typical of this administration’s decisions to screw our friends and allies and cosset our enemies.

    • Brad_Brzezinski

      Many things about this particular conflict – tunnels, long range rockets, the rise of ISI(L), even outright antisemitic protests in the west, raise doubts about the wisdom of the classic “2 state solution.” (For my own amusement, the firing of rockets at Jerusalem coupled with the lack of any outrage by the Muslim-world-at-large should put paid to its religious claim to Jerusalem.)

  • Andrew Allison

    Absolutely the wrong thing to do — it represents a huge win for Hamas.

  • Fat_Man

    I guess that doesn’t affect El Al. Good, more revenue for Israel.

  • Corlyss

    I hear Bloomberg has flown over to show something, I’m not sure what exactly. So here’s the question: now that he’s out of the country, do we have to let him back in?

    • f1b0nacc1

      During WWII, Churchill was asked how he, a lifelong anticommunist, could support aiding the Soviet Union. He replied “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to His Infernal Majesty in the House of Commons” I believe in this case, Bloomberg has earned a favorable reference.
      So we let him back in….this time….

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