Flights to Israel suspended after rocket attack near airport

Ben Gurion International Airport terminal 3 reception hall

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American and some European airlines have suspended flights to Israel for at least 24 hours after a rocket attack near Ben Gurion International Airport.

The US Federal Aviation Administration ordered Delta Airlines, American Airtlines and United Continental to stop flying to Tel Aviv after a Gazan rocket landed at a nearby town.

European airlines followed, with Lufthansa suspending operations to Tel Aviv for 36 hours. Air France and Dutch carrier KLM have also cancelled flights, citing the unclear security situation. KLM previously moved its crew change base from Tel Aviv to Larnaca in Cyprus.

A Delta Boeing 747 from New York to Tel Aviv was one hour from landing when it was diverted back to Paris instead. Flight 468 had 273 passengers and 17 crew on board.

United has one of its planes on the ground in Tel Aviv and is working on plans to remove it. American also has a plane on the ground at Ben Gurion.

The airline says the crew will ferry it out without passengers because the FAA won't let it take off with passengers on board.

Airlines and passengers are growing more anxious about safety since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine last week, killing all 298 people on board.

Israel's transport minister, Yisrael Katz, reacted angrily to the moves. "There is no reason for these companies to stop flights. They have given a prize to terror," he said.

Israel is continuing its ground invasion of Gaza to destroy military tunnels and rocket launching pads. The death toll on both sides has risen over the 600 mark as attempts to negotiate a truce continue in Egypt.

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