News / Middle East

FAA Lifts US Flight Ban on Israeli Airport

A departure flight board displays various canceled and delayed flights in Ben Gurion International airport a day after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration imposed a 24-hour restriction on flights to the airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 23, 2014.
A departure flight board displays various canceled and delayed flights in Ben Gurion International airport a day after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration imposed a 24-hour restriction on flights to the airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 23, 2014.
VOA News

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has lifted a ban on U.S. airlines flying in and out of Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, while continued fighting pushed the Palestinian death toll over 700.

A truce remained elusive despite intensive mediation efforts. Israel said 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.

An Egyptian official said on Wednesday that a more limited humanitarian cease-fire may go into effect by the weekend, in time for the Eid al-Fitr festival, Islam's biggest annual celebration that follows the fasting month of Ramadan.

But the United States, whose Secretary of State John Kerry is spearheading the indirect negotiations, was more circumspect.

“It would not be accurate to say that we expect a cease-fire by the weekend,” said a senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We are continuing to work on it, but it is not set at this point.”

'Fluid situation'

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The FAA said late Wednesday it canceled the restrictions after looking at new information and steps Israel is taking to lessen the risks to passenger planes.

The flight ban went into place Tuesday after rocket fire from Gaza hit near the airport outside Tel Aviv.

An FAA statement said it will continue to monitor what it calls a "very fluid situation" around the airport and will take additional actions if necessary.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf acknowledged Wednesday that Hamas has rockets that could reach Ben Gurion airport, but the accuracy of those weapons is limited.

Israel predicted take-offs and landings by U.S. carriers would resume on Thursday though European airlines might take longer to follow suit.

“The Europeans did not really deliberate over this, but acted more as a follow-up to the American decision,” said Gadi Regev, chief of staff for Israel's Civil Aviation Authority.

Death toll

The death toll in Gaza rose above 700 on Thursday as Israeli tank fire before dawn killed 16 people in the Hamas-dominated coastal territory, including six members of the same family, Palestinian health officials said.

  • Palestinian children wounded after the shelling of a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip lay on the floor of an emergency room in Beit Lahiya, July 24, 2014.
  • A crater from an Israeli strike is seen in the yard of the U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Palestinians evacuate a man medics said was wounded by Israeli shelling during an Israeli ground offensive east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Palestinians search for victims under the rubble of a house that witnesses said was destroyed by an Israeli air strike east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • A Palestinian man looks through a window scarred with shrapnel from a neighbouring building that police said was hit by an overnight Israeli air strike, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Palestinians ride in a truck as they flee from Israeli shelling during an Israeli ground offensive east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • An Israeli tank moves through the morning mist near the Israel and Gaza border, July 24, 2014.
  • Israeli soldiers carry a wounded soldier to a helicopter near the Israel and Gaza border, July 24, 2014.
  • A general view of a mosque and a house that witnesses said were damaged by an Israeli air strike that killed two children, is seen in the northern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Sgt. Max Steinberg, during his funeral at the Mount Herzel military cemetery in Jerusalem, July 23, 2014.

Israel has lost 32 soldiers to clashes inside Gaza and with Hamas raiders who have slipped across the fortified frontier in tunnels.

Rocket and mortar shelling by Hamas and other Palestinian guerrillas has killed three civilians in Israel.

Such shelling surged last month as Israel cracked down on Hamas in the occupied West Bank, triggering the July 8 air and sea barrage in Gaza that escalated into an invasion a week ago.

Though Israel's Iron Dome rocket interceptor has shot down most of the rockets fired from Gaza, one that came close to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday prompted the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to bar American flights there.

The ensuing wave of cancelations by foreign airlines emptied Israel's usually bustling international gateway and hurt its hi-tech economy at the height of summer tourist season. It was hailed as a “victory” by Hamas, and prompted an appeal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Kerry to intervene.

In what appeared to be a let-up in Palestinian attacks, the Israeli military said on Thursday only one rocket had been launched from Gaza overnight. It fell wide, causing no damage.

Cease-fire negotiations

Israel's security cabinet met late into the night on a proposed humanitarian truce under which fighting would cease immediately, but negotiations for terms for an extended deal would begin only in several days' time.

The cabinet's Science Minister Yaakov Peri Gaza said on Thursday a truce involving a withdrawal of Israeli ground forces from the Palestinian territory would be unlikely before next week.

“I do not see a ceasefire in the coming days where the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) leave,” Peri, a former security chief, told the Walla news site, adding that troops needed more time to complete their mission of destroying cross-border tunnels used by Gaza guerrillas.

“I can say authoritatively that two or three days will not be enough to finish tackling the tunnels," Peri said.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said his fighters had made gains against Israel and voiced support for a humanitarian truce, but only if Israel eased restrictions on Gaza's 1.8 million Palestinians, who are also under an embargo by next-door Egypt.

“Let's agree first on the demands and on implementing them and then we can agree on the zero hour for a ceasefire. ... We will not accept any proposal that does not lift the blockade. ... We do not desire war and we do not want it to continue but we will not be broken by it,” Meshaal said on Wednesday in Qatar.

Israel also came under criticism from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who said there was “a strong possibility” Israel was committing war crimes in Gaza, where 703 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in the fighting.

Pillay also condemned indiscriminate Islamist rocket fire out of Gaza, and the United Nations Human Rights Council said it would launch an international inquiry into alleged violations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted furiously.

“The decision today by the HRC is a travesty,” he said in a statement. “The HRC should be launching an investigation into Hamas's decision to turn hospitals into military command centers, use schools as weapons depots and place missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes and mosques.”

Rockets in school

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has also been on a truce-seeking mission, lashed out at militants in Gaza by expressing “outrage and regret” at rockets found inside a U.N. school for refugees, for the second time during the conflict.

Storing the rockets in the schools “turned schools into potentially military targets, endangering the lives of innocent children,” U.N. employees and the tens of thousands of Palestinians seeking shelter at Gaza schools from the fighting, Ban said. He urged an investigation.

Kerry returned to Egypt late on Wednesday after meeting in Jerusalem and the West Bank with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Ban and a grim-faced Netanyahu.

“We have certainly made some steps forward. There is still work to be done,” said Kerry, on one of his most intensive regional visits since Netanyahu called off U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations over Abbas's power-share deal with Hamas in April.

The military says one of its soldiers is also missing and believes he might be dead. Hamas says it has captured him, but has not released a picture of him in their hands.

Gaza has been rocked by regular bouts of violence since Israel unilaterally pulled out of the territory in 2005.

Hamas, which rejects Israel's right to exist, balked at Egypt's proposal for an unconditional truce, saying its conditions had to be met in full before any end to the conflict.

The war is exacting a heavy toll on impoverished Gaza. Palestinian officials say at least 475 houses have been destroyed by Israeli fire and 2,644 damaged. Some 46 schools, 56 mosques and seven hospitals have also suffered varying degrees of destruction.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Christian Soldier from: USA
July 24, 2014 7:30 AM
if you want to see the future of the "west" - look to Israel... as Israel go so will the rest of US...!!! the people of Israel have always attracted envy and jealousy... they are the light to the Nations... Israel is US... may God bless you little Israel - light of the world.


by: Thom H from: USA
July 24, 2014 7:18 AM
If the danger is gone, this is a good move. If not, it is foolishly political.


by: Charles from: England
July 24, 2014 7:05 AM
Would u like it if Nigeria got bombed for being nigerian
I bet u wouldn't wat hv those people done wrong nothing
so why judge and criticise


by: michael from: Nigeria
July 24, 2014 4:57 AM
Let meshal himself that is bragging comes to the war front: Please isreal carry on until all your enemy succomb

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid