Israel has declared a state of war after Hamas militants launched hundreds of rockets from Gaza, targeting major cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) responded with airstrikes and ground operations, killing dozens of Palestinians and injuring hundreds more. The conflict has escalated to the worst level since 2014, when Israel and Hamas fought a 50-day war that left more than 2,000 people dead.
The violence was triggered by clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites for both Muslims and Jews. The protesters were angry over the planned evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which is claimed by Jewish settlers. The situation worsened when Hamas issued an ultimatum to Israel to withdraw its forces from the compound by 6 p.m. local time on Monday, or face a barrage of rockets.
Israel did not comply, and Hamas followed through on its threat, firing more than 1,000 rockets at Israel in less than 48 hours. Some of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, but others hit residential buildings, schools, and cars, killing at least seven Israelis and wounding dozens more. Israel retaliated with airstrikes on Gaza, targeting Hamas leaders, militants, and infrastructure. The IDF also deployed tanks and troops to the border, preparing for a possible ground invasion.
The international community has expressed alarm over the situation and called for an immediate end to the hostilities. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on Tuesday, but failed to agree on a joint statement due to opposition from the United States, which supports Israel’s right to self-defense. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was sending an envoy to the region to try to de-escalate the tensions. He also urged both sides to protect civilians and respect human rights.
US airlines cancel flights to Tel Aviv amid security concerns
As the conflict between Israel and Hamas intensified, several major airlines decided to suspend their flights to and from Tel Aviv, citing safety concerns. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines announced that they had temporarily halted their operations to Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, which is located about 12 miles from Tel Aviv. The airport has been targeted by Hamas rockets several times in the past few days, although none of them have hit the facility.
The airlines also issued travel waivers for their customers who had booked flights to or from Israel, allowing them to change or cancel their reservations without any fees. The waivers are valid until October 15 for American Airlines, October 16 for Delta Air Lines, and October 17 for United Airlines. The airlines said they would monitor the situation closely and resume their flights when conditions permit.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also issued a notice to air missions (NOTAM) on Saturday, advising US airlines and pilots to exercise extreme caution when flying in Israeli airspace. The notice said that the situation in Israel was dynamic and that mortar and rocket fire could occur without warning. The FAA also said that it was coordinating with the Israeli government and other authorities to ensure the safety of US aviation operations.
The US State Department also updated its travel advisory for Israel and the West Bank on Monday, urging Americans to reconsider travel due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict. The advisory said that individuals should follow the instructions of security and emergency response officials and avoid areas of demonstrations and violence. The State Department also advised US citizens in Gaza who wished to depart safely to use the Rafah Crossing into Egypt, which is the only passageway between Egypt and Gaza.
Other airlines follow suit as war fears grow
The US airlines were not the only ones who decided to suspend their flights to Israel amid the escalating violence. Several European airlines also followed suit, including Deutsche Lufthansa, Air France, and low-cost carrier Wizz Air. These airlines said they had canceled their flights to Tel Aviv until further notice due to the security situation.
Some Asian airlines also joined the move, such as Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and Korean Air. Cathay Pacific said it had suspended its flights to Tel Aviv until October 18 due to operational reasons. Singapore Airlines said it had canceled its flights to Tel Aviv until October 16 due to safety concerns. Korean Air said it had stopped its flights to Tel Aviv until October 15 due to the unstable situation in the region.
However, some airlines continued their flights to Israel despite the risks. These included British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, and El Al Israel Airlines. British Airways said it was operating its flights as normal but was keeping the situation under review. Turkish Airlines said it had not canceled any flights but was taking extra precautions for safety reasons. Ethiopian Airlines said it had no plans to suspend its flights but was following the developments closely. El Al Israel Airlines said it was operating its flights as usual but was offering flexibility for its passengers who wanted to change or cancel their bookings.
The decision to suspend flights to Israel came as the war fears grew in the region, with no signs of a ceasefire or a diplomatic solution. The conflict has already claimed more than 200 lives, mostly Palestinians, and displaced thousands of people. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is also worsening, with limited access to water, electricity, and medical supplies. The UN has warned that the situation could spiral out of control and lead to a full-scale war, with devastating consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians.