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FAA bans U.S. airlines from Israel over rocket threat

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(USA TODAY ) - Delta Air Lines, United and US Airways each canceled flights Tuesday to Israel because of safety and security concerns, after a rocket attack near Tel Aviv's airport.

At 12:15 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration prohibited U.S. airlines from flying to Ben Gurion International Airport for 24 hours, after a rocket landed about 1 mile from the airport.

"The FAA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation," FAA said in a statement. "Updated instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines as soon as conditions permit, but no later than 24 hours" from the last order.

Delta Flight 468, a Boeing 747 with 273 passengers and 17 crew members, diverted to Paris on Tuesday after reports of a rocket near Tel Aviv. The airline, which typically flies between New York's JFK airport and Ben Gurion, suspended service indefinitely.

United Airlines canceled flights 84 and 90 from Newark to Tel Aviv.

"We are suspending operations to/from Tel Aviv until further notice," United 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."

US Airways also canceled a flight to Israel Tuesday. Flight 796, which began in Los Angeles, was canceled in Philadelphia before leaving for Tel Aviv.

The airlines said they are working with FAA and other government agencies to monitor the situation.

The State Department has been warning to defer non-essential travel to Israel since Feb. 3 because of hostilities with the West Bank and Gaza.

Long-range rockets launched from Gaza since July 8, 2014 have reached many locations in Israel, including Tel Aviv. While many rockets have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, there have been impacts that have caused damage and injury.

Israeli Defense Forces said in its Twitter feed that Iron Dome had intercepted one rocket above Tel Aviv while a second rocket fell in the town of Yehud, about a mile and a half from the airport.

 

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