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Major Airlines Suspend Flights To Israel As Crisis Deepens With Palestine

Major European airlines, including Austrian Airlines, British Airways and Lufthansa, have suspended flights to Israel due to the conflict on the border with Palestine, Israeli media reported on Thursday.

German company Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines stated that they would not carry out flights from Frankfurt, Vienna and Munich on Thursday and Friday, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

In addition, authorities of Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport decided earlier on Thursday to reroute all incoming flights to the Ramon airport in the country’s south because of ongoing rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

A day prior, an American Airlines spokesperson told Sputnik that the company had canceled its flights to Tel Aviv for May 12-13 due to the escalation of violence in the region. Among those who temporarily stopped their flights to Israel are also United Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

For its turn, Russia’s Federal Agency for Air Transport (Rosaviatsiya) on Thursday issued a set of recommendations to national airlines concerning the ongoing tensions on the Gaza border.

“In connection with the aggravation of the situation in the Middle East region, to ensure the safety of flights of civil aircraft of the Russian Federation when performing international air transport, the Rosaviatsiya recommends that Russian aircraft operators: ensure constant monitoring of operational air navigation information issued by the states of the region and containing data on activities potentially dangerous for civil aircraft flights,” the agency said in a statement.

It also called on the Russian air companies to ensure “prompt decision-making on the termination of flights over or near the zone of armed conflict” depending on the situation, as well as choose safe routes and flight modes, and refer to related guidelines on the safety of civil flights.

Russian aircraft operator Aeroflot has already announced the cancellation of several flights to Israel.

“Due to restrictions in the operation of Ben Gurion Airport (Israel), Aeroflot cancels flights SU500/SU501 Sheremetyevo – Tel Aviv – Sheremetyevo on May 14, 2021,” the company said in a message.

Large-scale clashes broke out from May 7-10 between Palestinians and Israeli police, leading to the sharpest escalation of the conflict in recent years. Riots began in two areas of East Jerusalem at once – near the Temple Mount and in the Sheikh Jarrah quarter, where several Arab families are being evicted by the Israeli court decision.

Palestinian militants have launched over 1,600 rockets from Gaza toward Israel. The effectiveness of the Israeli missile defense system “Iron Dome” is estimated at around 90%. Six Israeli civilians and one military man have died since the beginning of the escalation. Israel has fired retaliatory strikes against Gaza, attacking about 600 military targets of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

According to the enclave’s health ministry, the number of Palestinians killed in three days increased to 83, and 487 people were reportedly injured.

Israel In No Mood To Give-Up

Israel does not seek escalation with Palestine but has the right and duty to defend itself, Israeli Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, said in a letter to the UN Security Council seen by Sputnik.

“The State of Israel is not interested in an escalation. However, Israel has the right and duty to defend its people and sovereignty and will continue to do so vigorously,” Erdan said in a letter dated May 12.

The ambassador said since Monday morning, more than 1,500 rockets had been fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli communities, resulting in seven fatalities and hundreds of more people being injured.

“As of today, millions of Israeli civilians are under relentless attacks by these terrorist organizations and are forced to remain in shelters,” he said.

Erdan also pointed out Israel continued to ensure freedom of worship for Muslims on the Temple Mount. According to him, hundreds of thousands of Muslims visit the site every year, and this status quo will not change.

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