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Airlines suspend flights to Israel, Hamas fires rocket at airport near Eilat

PARIS: Israel’s escalating conflict with the Palestinians saw several airlines on Thursday suspend services to the Jewish state amid global alarm and diplomatic efforts to halt the spiralling violence.
KLM –
Dutch airline KLM has halted flights to Israel for the time being, Dutch public broadcaster NOS said. A flight from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport that was postponed earlier in the week due to the violence has been cancelled for good and KLM is deciding whether a flight due on Sunday can go ahead, NOS said.
BA, Virgin –
British Airways cancelled its service to and from Tel Aviv on Thursday and Virgin Atlantic also did the same for Thursday and Friday.
Both airlines said they are monitoring the situation closely.
Lufthansa –
Germany’s flag carrier cancelled flights for Thursday and Friday, adding: “Lufthansa expects to resume its flight operations to Israel beginning Saturday, May 15.”
Iberia –
The Spanish airline cancelled its flight Madrid to Tel Aviv for Thursday and Friday-Saturday’s return leg.
An Iberia spokeswoman told AFP: “We will take further decisions based on the evolution of the situation.”
LOT –
The Polish airline said it had “suspended flights to Israel for the moment”. Spokesman Krzysztof Moczulski added: “I suppose that we will not be flying there in the coming days”.

Hamas fires rocket at Israel’s second airport near Eilat: Hamas on Thursday said it fired a rocket at Israel’s Ramon airport near Eilat, where incoming passenger flights were diverted after waves of rocket launches towards the main airport near Tel Aviv.
A spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing announced the launch of the rocket and demanded that “all international airlines immediately halt their flights to any airports” in the Jewish state.
Hamas has fired over 1,600 rockets towards Israel since Monday, with the Israel military saying it struck Gaza targets over 600 times.
Earlier Thursday, Israel’s civil aviation authority said it had diverted all incoming passenger flights headed for Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport to Ramon airport, as air raid warnings once more went off across Israel.
International carriers were meanwhile cancelling flights to Israel.
Spokespeople for United Airlines and American Airlines told their flights from the US to Israel had been cancelled “through May 15”.
In Gaza, 83 people were reported killed since Monday, with seven killed on the Israeli side.

Amid the rocket fire, Israel’s civil aviation authority said it had diverted all incoming passenger flights headed for Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport to Ramon airport in the south.
Hamas announced it had also fired a rocket at Ramon, in a bid to stop all air traffic to Israel.
Israeli media reported that the rocket missed its target, but a number of international airlines cancelled flights to the Jewish state amid the aerial onslaught.
Netanyahu visited a battery of the Iron Dome air defence system in central Israel on Thursday, saying “it will take time… but we will restore calm” to the country.

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M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.