Israel’s Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said on Tuesday that the recently announced cancellation of European and U.S. flights to Israel handed a victory to terrorism.
“There is no reason for the American companies to stop their flight and give a prize to terror,” Katz said, according to Jerusalem Post correspondent Niv Elis.
On Tuesday, four major U.S. airline carriers announced their decision to cancel flights heading to Israel indefinitely, one specifically citing the danger of Gaza rocket attacks near Israel’s Ben Gurion airport.
Shortly after the airlines announced their decision, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it told all U.S. airlines that flights to the airport are prohibited for 24 hours, according to The Associated Press. German carrier Lufthansa nixed all flights to and from Tel Aviv for the next two days, according to an ABC News correspondent, and Air France also suspended its flights to Israel.
Delta said it suspended service between its hub in New York and Tel Aviv “to ensure the safety and security of our customers and employees.”
The airline said one of its Boeing 747s, headed for Tel Aviv from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport with 273 passengers and 17 crew members, on Tuesday diverted to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport following reports of a rocket or associated debris near the airport in Tel Aviv.
Israeli police confirmed that a rocket launched from Gaza landed in an area near Ben Gurion, The AP reported. The rocket caused damage to a house and slightly wounded one Israeli, police spokesperson Luba Samri said.
Delta said it “continues to work closely with U.S. and other government resources to monitor the situation,” adding, “a customer waiver for travel to Tel Aviv is in effect.”
US Airways also canceled a flight to Israel on Tuesday, according to USA Today. Flight 796, from Los Angeles, was canceled in Philadelphia before leaving for Tel Aviv.
“We are suspending operations to/from Tel Aviv until further notice,” US Airways spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm said. “We are working with government officials to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees and will continue to evaluate the situation.”
United Airlines on Tuesday canceled flights 84 and 90 from Newark to Tel Aviv, USA Today reported, and American Airlines told CNN it also suspended service to Ben Gurion airport.