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FAA bans all U.S. flights to Israel

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Tuesday that all U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv are prohibited for at least the next 24 hours.

The Federal Aviation Administration has banned U.S. airlines from traveling to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for 24 hours.
Courtesy of AP

The FAA's announcement comes after several airlines including Delta Airlines and U.S. Airways already announced the decision to suspend flights to Israel Tuesday morning after reports that a rocket fired from Gaza struck near Tel Aviv's main airport.

A rocket launched on Tuesday morning landed in close proximity to Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

On the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Twitter feed, it said that Iron Dome had intercepted one rocket above Tel Aviv while a second rocket fell in the town of Yehud, about a mile and a half from the airport.

On Monday evening, the United States Department of State issued a warning to all U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Israel.

In a press release on Tuesday, the FAA states:

'the FAA issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) informing U.S. airlines that they are prohibited from flying to or from Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport for a period of up to 24 hours. The notice was issued in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning of July 22, 2014. The NOTAM applies only to U.S. operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport.
The FAA immediately notified U.S. carriers when the agency learned of the rocket strike and informed them that the agency was finalizing a NOTAM."

The FAA said the agency 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 NOTAM went into force.

Israeli officials are not happy with the United States government's flight ban. Israel’s Transportation Ministry said the airport was “safe for landings and departures.”

“Ben-Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded and there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize,” it said in a statement.

Aviation experts say each country decides whether to close airspace over its own territory. And government agencies that regulate their own airlines, such as the FAA, can declare areas off-limits, too. But there is no international body that closes air routes for all the world's airlines.