Updated 07/22/14 – 10:15 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — Shortly after at least four major airlines cancelled flights to Tel Aviv, Israel, the Federal Aviation Administration has banned all U.S. airlines from flying to Israel for 24 hours, in the wake of a report of a rocket attack near Ben Gurion Airport.
Late Tuesday morning, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, U.S. Airways, and Chicago-based United Airlines all suspended flights to and from Israel until further notice.
Later, the FAA prohibited all U.S. airlines from flying to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, after a rocket from Gaza landed near the airport.
“We are working with government officials to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees and will continue to evaluate the situation,” United spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm said in an email.
Delta flight 468 from New York to Tel Aviv was diverted to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on Tuesday, while the flight was over the Mediterranean, making a U-turn to Paris.
United operates at least two daily flights from the U.S. to Israel. American, Delta and U.S. Airways each operate one daily flight to Tel Aviv.
Israeli police confirmed that a rocket from Gaza landed in an area near the airport. Police spokeswomen Luba Samri said the rocket caused damage to a house and slightly wounded one Israeli.
Chicago lawyer David Brown is in Israel waiting to come home.
“To have a wife and five kids anxiously for awaiting us to come back, it’s obviously I feel a little bit helpless because it’s not in my control.”
Reneee Hirsh from Highland ParK arrived at O’Hare from France Tuesday and is concerned as she has several family members visiting Israel right now.
“I think that they should take every precaution that they can,” said Hirsch. “I think it is appropriate. Better to be safe.”
DePaul University professor and transportation expert Joe Schwieterman said, as the Gaza ground offensive ends, maybe before, the U.S. likely will lift the ban on American flights to Tel Aviv.
He also said the idea of missile defense systems on commercial jets might soon take hold.
“The big problem with anti-missile systems is, A, planes get shifted all around the world, so you need to install them on lots and lots of planes. Secondly, they’re very heavy, so that affects fuel consumption,” Schwieterman said.
At $1 million per plane, Schwieterman said he doesn’t see all U.S.-made planes carrying missile defense systems, but they might be installed on planes that fly routes into or over troubled areas.
Airlines and passengers are growing more anxious about safety since last week, when a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Airlines have rerouted planes to avoid the area over eastern Ukraine where pro-Soviet separatists are battling the Ukrainian army.
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