Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Israel: Obama Administration Seems to Want a Cease-Fire More Than Israel

According to The Associated Press, two US airlines cancelled all flights to Israel until further notice, after a Gaza rocket landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport.

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near Israel's Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on Tuesday (July 22), wounding one Israeli and prompting all US and some European and Canadian airlines to cancel flights to Tel Aviv, a reflection of high anxiety over air travel after the downing of a Malaysian jet over Ukraine.

It was the latest blow to Israel on a day when it announced that an Israeli soldier went missing following a deadly battle in the Palestinian territory, where the Israelis are fighting Hamas militants in the third conflict in just over five years. 

With the casualty toll mounting on both sides, the international community has stepped up diplomatic efforts and US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN chief Ban Ki-moon met with Egyptian and Israeli officials in a bid to revive a cease-fire proposal that was summarily rejected by Hamas.

Israel's Transportation Ministry called on the US carriers to reverse their decisions, insisting the Ben-Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded and saying there is no reason to "hand terror a prize," by halting flights.

COMMENT: What I find so interesting is that the Obama Administration, rather than being conflicted for all the wrong reasons in supporting the Israelis, seems to be much more concerned with Hamas' forcing Palestinians to continue to die unnecessarily.

In a bizarre turn of events, Hamas seems to be resisting a cease-fire because Palestinian victims being placed in Harm's Way would diminish, not increase casualties.

It almost appears that Washington is subliminally making things as difficult as it can on Tel Aviv when it is Hamas that is intentionally putting its citizens at risk.

Militants in Gaza 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 defense system, but police spokeswoman Luba Samri said Tuesday's landing was the closet to the airport since fighting began on July 8.

The rocket heavily damaged a house and lightly injured one Israeli in Yehud, a Tel Aviv suburb near the airport, Samri said.

However, international 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, thinking that Ukraine and Israel are one and the same.

While Hamas rockets aren't guided missiles, they still can cause massive damage to an aircraft. 

For instance, unguided mortar fire in Tripoli from a militia batting to control its international airport destroyed a $113 million Airbus A330 over the weekend used by Libya's state-owned Afriqiyah Airways.

The FAA told US airlines they are prohibited from flying to the Tel Aviv airport in Israel for 24 hours beginning Tuesday afternoon (July 22) "due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza. 

Later, the European Aviation Safety Agency issued an advisory to airlines saying it "strongly recommends" airlines avoid the airport.

Germany's Lufthansa, Air France, Air Canada and Alitalia canceled flights to Tel Aviv over safety concerns amid the increasing violence. Dutch airline KLM also cancelled Flight 461 from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv because of the unclear situation at and around the airport. Greece's Aegean Airlines also canceled flights from Athens and Iraklio to Tel Aviv on Tuesday and Wednesday, citing "operational reasons."

The fate of another Israeli soldier who went missing following a deadly battle in the Gaza Strip remained unknown, a defense official said Tuesday. It was not immediately known if the missing soldier was alive or dead, the Israeli defense official told AP.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the international community to hold Hamas accountable for the latest round of violence, saying its refusal to agree to a cease-fire had prevented an earlier end to the fighting.

Netanyahu responded that Hamas, a group whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, does not want a two-state solution.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines said Tuesday they are suspending service between the US and Israel indefinitely. US Airways scrapped its Tel Aviv service Tuesday and said it is monitoring the situation in regards to future flights.

Delta Air Lines' one daily flight was already in the air when the FAA ban was issued. Delta said a Boeing 747 from NYC 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.

United Airlines has cancelled its two daily flights to Israel out of Newark.

US Airways, which has one daily flight from Philadelphia, canceled that flight Tuesday and the return trip from Tel Aviv.