Israel flights to/from United States stopped by FAA - KMSP-TV

FAA stops all flights to and from Israel

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday ordered U.S. airlines to stop from flying to Israel after a rocket exploded just one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Delta Airlines had already suspended its flights to and from Israel indefinitely.

The FAA ban will last for 24 hours beginning at 11:15 p.m. CT on Tuesday. European countries are also strongly advising their airlines against traveling to the country.

Amanda Ahlers just returned from Israel on Monday, and with the FAA ban now in place, she believes she was lucky to leave.

"Literally, by the Lord's grace, got out in the nick of time," Ahlers told Fox 9 News. "I am really thankful to be home."

The Anoka resident had spent a month and a half on a Bible study program in Jerusalem. During that time, she often had to duck into bomb shelters while the violence between Israel and Gaza escalated.

"Big huge siren goes off, can hear it all through the city," she recalled. "You just run to the nearest shelter and you stay in and wait. It's unreal."

Delta Flight 468 from New York’s JFK Airport was diverted to Paris on Tuesday after reports of a rocket or associated debris near the airport in Tel Aviv, the country's busiest airport. The 747 turned around mid-flight, and the move to halt air travel to the region could seriously disrupt travel to the Middle East in the height of the summer tourist season.

"Everyone said, 'It's a ticking time bomb -- a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off," Ahlers said.

Delta worked with the 2763 passengers and 17 crew members to accommodate alternative travel plans. A customer waiver for travel to Tel Aviv is in effect and available at delta.com, but some Minnesotans who planned to visit the country in the coming weeks -- including Minneapolis resident Justin Mednick -- say they aren't deterred.

"I definitely still want to go," he said.

Mednick is scheduled to leave on Aug. 3, and he told Fox 9 News he's been excited about the trip since February. Now, he's just hoping the tensions calm so that his birthright trip can happen.

"If I was flying into Israel today, I would be concerned," he admitted. "But, every day, things change. Every day is a little different. If the ground operations are successful, maybe in a week and a half, things will have blown over a little bit -- but I will have to wait and see."

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