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Updated: Thu, 24 Jul 2014 04:26:06 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Gaza conflict: FAA lifts ban on flights to Tel Aviv



A Palestinian woman walks through the rubble of a building that police said was hit by an overnight Israeli air strike, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014. Israel won a partial reprieve from the economic pain of its Gaza war on Thursday with the lifting of a U.S. ban on commercial flights to Tel Aviv, while continued fighting pushed the Palestinian death toll over 700. A truce remained elusive despite intensive mediation efforts. Israel says it needs more time to eradicate rocket stocks and cross-border tunnels in the Gaza Strip and Hamas Islamists demand the blockade on the enclave be lifted. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (© GAZA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)

A Palestinian woman walks through the rubble of a building that police said was hit by an overnight Israeli air strike, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014. Israel won a partial reprieve from the economic pain of its Gaza war on Thursday with the lifting of a U.S. ban on commercial flights to Tel Aviv, while continued fighting pushed the Palestinian death toll over 700. A truce remained elusive despite intensive mediation efforts. Israel says it needs more time to eradicate rocket stocks and cross-border tunnels in the Gaza Strip and Hamas Islamists demand the blockade on the enclave be lifted. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR3ZXAI Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on all flight to Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport late Wednesday night, despite ongoing fighting in Gaza. 

The cancellation went into effect at 11:45 p.m. ET.

"Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess 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," said the FAA in a statement released online.

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The ban was initially instituted on Tuesday, after a rocket hit about two kilometres from the boundaries of the airport. The FAA extended that ban for a second day earlier on Wednesday.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday, Air Canada, the only Canadian carrier that flies to Israel, cancelled its daily flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv.

It was not immediately clear Wednesday night if Air Canada flights to Ben Gurion would resume Thursday, but an airline spokeswomen told CBC News earlier that the airline was constantly reviewing the situation on the ground in Israel. 

About 30 international carriers had suspended flights to the airport, but US Airways said it would resume flights to Israel Thursday. Delta, another American airline, said "we hope to announce a renewal of flights soon but we don't have anything yet."

Other major airlines, particularly European carriers, have yet to announce a resumption of flights. 

Israeli officials slammed the cancellations as an overreaction that rewards Hamas, and Israel's own El Al airline continued flying in and out of Ben Gurion throughout the duration of the FAA's ban. 

Gaza fighting continues

Heavy fighting continued in Gaza on Thursday as Israeli tanks and airstrikes pounded various neighbourhoods.

The Palestinian death toll has now reached at least 718, most of them civilians, Palestinian health officials said Thursday. Israel has lost 32 soldiers, while two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker have been killed within the country's borders.

Heavy fighting was reported along the border of central Gaza, according to Gaza police spokesman Ayman Batniji. Israeli troops fired tank shells that reached parts of the Bureij and Maghazi refugee camps. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Clashes also erupted between Palestinian fighters and Israeli troops in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, and the sound of explosions was audible across the town, Batniji said.

Israeli naval vessels meanwhile fired more than 100 shells along the coast of Gaza City and northern Gaza, the spokesman said. Rescue teams were prevented from operating in the area because of the heavy fire, he added.

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