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Updated: Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:34:17 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Israel-Gaza conflict: U.S. airlines cancel Tel Aviv flights over safety concerns



Delta Air Lines on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 canceled all flights to Israel until further notice, citing reports that a rocket landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport. Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Delta Air Lines on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 canceled all flights to Israel until further notice, citing reports that a rocket landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport. Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines suspended flights to Israel indefinitely Tuesday after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, wounding one Israeli.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration subsequently issued a statement ordering U.S. carriers not to fly into Tel Aviv airport for the next 24 hours.

A Delta Boeing 747 from New York was flying over the Mediterranean headed for Tel Aviv when it turned around and flew to Paris instead. Flight 468 had 273 passengers and 17 crew on board.

Air Canada, which operates daily flights to Tel Aviv from Toronto and Montreal, said it was aware of the reports and was evaluating the situation. It has a flight scheduled to leave for Tel Aviv at 6:10 p.m. ET "pending further notice," a spokeswoman said by email.

Air France, Dutch flag carrier KLM, and German flag carrier Lufthansa also said they were suspending their flights to Tel Aviv.

US Airways, which has one daily flight from Philadelphia, cancelled that flight Tuesday and the return trip from Tel Aviv. It said it was evaluating subsequent flights.

Palestinian militants have fired more than 2,000 rockets toward Israel, and several heading toward the area of Ben-Gurion Airport have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defence system, but police spokeswoman Luba Samri said Tuesday's landing was the closest to the airport since fighting began on July 8.

24-hour ban

Airlines and passengers are growing more anxious about safety since last week, when a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

The FAA said that the ban on flights is for 24 hours beginning at 12:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

The statement said the rocket strike landed about 1.6 kilometres from Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday morning.

The notice only applies to U.S. airlines, since the FAA has no authority over carriers from other countries.

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.

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